Being a working mom of two toddlers and an infant…I’m often asked “HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?!” Actually, I’m not sure how to do it any other way. A co-worker recently asked me how often we hit the drive thru on the way home from work/daycare. Answer = hardly ever. The only real time I allow myself to cruise through McD’s for the kids is on swim lesson night if I’m running way behind. Now I will admit that Andy & I do usually grab food somewhere on the way home from swim lessons – almost always Chipotle. (However we feel that we are just making sure our Chipotle stays in business since NO ONE is ever there at night and we really like Chipotle. I’m really hoping/praying that they get some decent traffic during lunch.)
Maybe once every 6-8 weeks we’ll do a kids-eat-free at Moe’s or Skyline. Otherwise, we make an effort to cook something most nights during the week. Yes, PB&J and grilled cheese sometimes make the menu. And yes, we get in a rut of chicken/pork-veggie-fruit-and-crescent roll one night, spaghetti the next, repeat. This rut seems to generally hit after the holidays (I’ve even posted about this before).
If only the co-worker had asked how often I run into Kroger on the way home…WAY TOO OFTEN! I’m constantly scrambling for ideas for dinner at the last minute. So……I’m back to focusing on the dinner menu as we kick off the new year. Each weekend Andy and I sit down and plan our meals for the week. Which really means we have the following conversation:
Me: Are you coming home for lunch this week? (Andy works 5 minutes from the house)
Me: Is there anything you want specifically for dinner this week?
Me: Is there anything you don’t want specifically for dinner this week?
Me: Is there anything new you want to try this week?
Me: Will you be working late this week?
Me: Do you have any commitments after work this week?
Then I write on the fridge calendar (and am now posting on the right side of this blog) what we’ll be having each night and we try to stick to it. I’m also focusing on incorporating some new recipes into the mix (which some are actually very old, but new again to us because it’s been so long since we had it last). However, I don’t plan to post recipes on this blog…that’s what Tastes From Tricia’s Table is for.
Digressing…In all honesty, the real reason I created that “blog” was so that I could always have my recipes handy wherever there’s a computer nearby – it had nothing to do with sharing them with you people! I was just sick of thinking of a dinner idea at work, but then not knowing what ingredients were needed for the recipe and then guessing (incorrectly more often than not) at the grocery on the way home. Argh.
So getting to the real focus of this post…I decided to make Turkey Tetrazzini on Sunday for Monday’s dinner. We had turkey leftover from Thanksgiving in the freezer and pasta leftover from the actual Sunday dinner. So after the kids went to bed I threw together the dish and put it in the fridge. Monday was stress-free for dinner planning and preparation. It took longer to cook since it started out cold, but was well worth it. Now I’m thinking I could have frozen 1/2 of it (but then the neighbor would have lost out on her portion).
Making things ahead of time can really save you during the work week. I often double or triple taco meat when cooking it for one meal and then freeze leftovers. That way the next time we want tacos, I just have to thaw the meat. I often cook LOTS of chicken at once and then freeze cubed chicken for casseroles, etc. I freeze cooked sausage and ham for future breakfast casseroles (which I’m going to make more of for dinner this year). Basically, precooking or double-cooking anything that can make a recipe easier the next time. It was so nice to pull out the turkey from the freezer and the already cooked pasta from the fridge and skip ahead on the recipe directions. Turkey Tetrazzini will definitely make it to the table more than once this year.