Gone Coastal

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Favourite meal ideas?

Yes, I am on a quest for input, so all you folks who read but never post comments, scratch your heads and by all means put your two bits in.

I hate to think about it, but I'll be heading back to work in less than two months. The Bear does the lion's share of cooking 'round here, but as a rule we kinda get around to food when we get hungry enough, and that's typically not long before we get to bed. Once I'm back at work during the day, my time's going to be even tighter than it is now, and I'd like to get into eating at a more conventional time (as opposed to after all the bottles and formula are prepped and I'm already half asleep). But to make that happen, I think I'll have to step up to the plate and at very least do some serious meal planning ahead of time and get things started after work if the Bear's absorbed elsewhere. But we've gotten so lazy in recent years - even worse since Tweetie arrived - that our current concept of meal planning is making sure we have enough MREs from Costco in the freezer. That's not the only thing we eat, it's just the default when we're not inspired over what to run to the store and buy ingredients for at the last minute.
So, I'm looking for a little help. Some inspiration to jumpstart a good meal planning habit. My ideal criteria (though I'm open to lots of things that don't fit) is simple stuff, can be made in large portions and makes good leftovers, can be cooked with minimal attention after initial prep (so if I'm taking my turn I don't need to choose between burning dinner or neglecting Tweetie), few dishes used, and lots of simple, common ingredients we can keep as staples.

Send me what ya got!



  • Well, for starters, the crockpot is your friend. Load it before bed and pop it into the fridge, then put it on before you leave in the morning. This works best for soups and stews that are hard to overcook, as many recipes only take 6 hours and who's ever gone for that short a time.

    Also, I find that it helps to try and eat seasonally- soups and stews and such in the winter, and salads, bread, and barbeque in the summer. If you read some meal plan books, they have you use the same plan every month, so of course you don't, because who want soup in July?

    The working 4 days a week thing has forced me to become more organized- I find that I'm a week-at-a-time sort of person. Just jotting down what we'll eat each night before I go to the grocery store and making sure I get anything I need makes it easy, because I don't have to think when I walk in the door- just look at the list and do it. That's the hardest thing for me- the deciding. If that's done, it's not hard to put things together.

    Also, I usually know ahead what nights will be hairy, and so plan simple things for them. Oh- and always have all the ingredients for one or two emergency favorites. Ours is tuna casserole, made the cheating way, w/ a can of mushroom soup, one of tuna and a bag of egg noodles. Choose something that you can make in about 15 minutes with one hand.

    For more yummy ideas, see if your library has Donna Hay's 'New Food Fast' or the Donna Hay magazine (or any of her books for that matter). I like them because they're usually simple enough that you can improvise, they use fresh food (not many tins of this and that called for) and are usually quite quick. (They're where I got my chocolate mousse recipe which I posted on M.O.U.S.E.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:53 p.m.  

  • Um, all I was going to say was "crockpots are your friend", but the goddess beat me to it. And then beat me with it, because that's ALL I was going to say.

    Um, I'll work on a response more worthy of the one before me.

    By Blogger Mrs. Cowan, at 5:33 p.m.  

  • I agree with the goddess about crockpot meals. It was a disappointment that most recipes are for six hours or so. I got one, finally, that has a timer so it goes off after the time. The trouble is, it doesn't have an on time, just an off.

    Another huge supper boon for us this summer has been a new bbq. We have a nice baking tile for our oven where we typically bake pizzas. Well, we figured it was worth a try in the bbq. Preheat it and plonk on a good old frozen pizza. It turns out super good. We like the thin crust margarita pizzas from Costco. Pile on chopped leftover meat and some extra cheese if you like, and supper is done.

    Other that this, I'd love some ideas as well. Since going back to full time work in December, the menu planning has gone out the window. If only we had an ounce of energy when we got home. Motivation is a problem for us all right now. It seems to help in the summer to at least have prepackaged meat in a marinade, and then freeze. Freeze them flat and they are really easy to defrost in the bag, in a bowl of water. At least there will be meat to bbq. On the weekends I try to make extra of everything and freeze for quick meals. I try to have the ingredients for a good antipasto plate and bread. Freezing single serve soups has also worked for us. We can pick and choose what we want for dinner. BTW goddess, I got a great pot for your pot bread and replaced the handle so it will go in the bbq. yum.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:53 p.m.  

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