This is my fourth time to participate in Menu Plan Monday. Since keeping my home organized is my biggest struggle, having my menu planned out before the week begins has been huge for me. It’s one more thing that is under control for the week.
If you’re a mom, have you ever felt that your life is spent entirely in the kitchen? I can remember when I was single and living alone. Someone asked me what I generally had for supper, since I was cooking for one. I honestly couldn’t think. I did cook some, but it was whatever I was in the mood for. I can remember eating only broccoli on some nights, since broccoli dipped in ranch is heaven to me. I once ate biscuits and gravy for two weeks straight because I was determined to figure out how to make gravy (which is an art, by the way). I think there were plenty of times when I came home from work and snacked, but never ate a real meal. The point is, what was for dinner wasn’t a responsibility for me. If I hadn’t planned ahead, I could always grab something somewhere.
As a mom, though, if I don’t plan ahead, it costs five times as much to eat out, and we just don’t have the discretionary income that I had when I was single. And amazingly, neither my children nor my husband will agree to eat only broccoli and ranch dressing for supper. Weirdos.
I remember thinking after my first son was born that my entire life was scheduled around feeding people. First with breastfeeding sessions that each took two hours in the early days, and later the force-feeding of baby food. Planning breakfast, lunch and dinner for little people who couldn’t fend for themselves took so much more time and energy than I had ever imagined.
Over the past 7 years, I’ve developed some routines. I’ve learned which basic things to have on hand for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. I found some great go-to suppers that could be thrown together easily. We survived, and ate at home six nights a week most weeks. But with the simple task of making a weekly menu plan, we are able to thrive with less effort than it was taking to just survive! I’ve been more creative, because I take the time to think about what we have and what two or three ingredients we need to complete a meal. I haven’t made anything fancy, but just having something new is exciting around here.
So here’s my plan for this week.
Monday – Grilled chicken breasts cooked on the George Forman grill served with buttered noodles and spinach. I’ll cook extra chicken breasts for future meals, such as Thursday’s fajitas.
Tuesday – Tortilla soup – We love this soup, and I’m so excited to have it again now that the weather is getting a bit cooler.
1 large can tomatoes (I use whole tomatoes and cut them up with kitchen scissors while they are still in the can. I tried using diced tomatoes once but the juice on the whole ones works better for soup.)
1 can ro-tel tomatoes or salsa
3 1/2 cups chicken stock – I liberally sprinkle poultry seasoning into the soup if I’m using unseasoned chicken stock.
1 tsp black pepper
1tsp ground cumin
chili powder to taste. I usually just use a sprinkle, but the actual recipe calls for 1tsp
1tsp garlic powder
1 cup cubed or shredded cooked chicken breast
a dash or two of garlic salt
Cook all ingredients together, at least one hour and serve with tortilla chips to break up into the soup and grated cheddar to sprinkle into the soup. YUM! I typically make a double recipe of this and put the extra in a ziploc bag after it cools to freeze.
Wednesday – Beef stroganoff using ground beef.
Thursday – Chicken fajitas using the grilled chicken from Monday.
Slice an onion and saute in oil. Add some salt to the onion to help it caramelize (I think I saw this on Rachael Ray, but wherever I saw it, it works.) I put the lid on the pan while the onions cook, stirring them every once in a while. Once they start to brown and are the way you like them for fajitas, just place fully cooked sliced chicken breasts in with them until the chicken breasts are warmed up. Serve with tortillas and whatever fixings you like. This is a quick meal that feels like a special treat.
Check out more Menu Plans on orgjunkie.com.