Dinner Blueprint – My Family’s Dinners The Week Starting April 8th

#MomsDinnerHacks #MomsSavingTime #LessDishesForMommy #KidFriendlyFood

Let’s save time making dinner for the family! Let’s reduce the number of dishes, avoid the ‘short-order-cookism’ of serving each person their own special meal that meets their every whim and desire… basically let’s make this communal, perhaps fun (okay depending on the age of your kids), nourishing family time without all of the complexity of making dish-intensive, complicated menus or worse, planning ‘dinner’ on the fly each night.

To quickly recap — I save considerable time, at least 1 to 2 hours (of prep, clean up, shopping and mental energy) each week by:

  • Repeating a basic ‘formula’ of how dinner works (protein + grain + 2 or 3 vegetables)
  • Choosing meals that are very quick to prepare (i.e. less than 30 minutes) during the working week (see previous post with my go-to list of weeknight vs. weekend grains, vegetables and protein choices).
  • Cooking at least 2 meals a week that feed my family two times (2X meals)
  • Making one dinner that works for everybody, with some minor variations to make the ‘grown up’ servings more interesting and the kids’ versions more ‘kid-friendly’ (i.e. nothing touches each other, no spicy sauces, de-saucing items cooked in sauce altogether, etc.)

I’m also a dish minimalist. I go to extraordinary lengths to reduce the amount of pots, pans, cutting boards, etc. required for each meal. I enjoy the cooking part and want to reduce the dishwashing and clean up (the joyless) part. Most of my meals and menus are designed with this in mind.

Here’s what we had for dinner, starting April 9th. Again, I usually ‘start’ my new menu for the week on Saturdays when I have more time.

I received the great advice from a new MHN reader to include more photographs – so I’m gradually incorporating more pictures of the finished meals and steps along the way.

  • Sunday (1X ‘feeds my family twice’ meal. Normally I cook a 2X meal on Sundays, but I promised my hubby fish.)
  • Monday (Saturday meal part 2)
    • Pork burritos with avocado, tomato & onions (using the leftover pork shoulder) for the grown ups
    • Quesadillas with cheese and hummus & pork on the side for the kids.
  • Avocado + grape tomato + cucumbers served ‘a la carte’ for the kids
  • Tuesday – (2 – 3X feeds your family two to three times meal)
    • Brazilian style chicken and rice
    • Cut grape tomatoes & cucumbers and carrots served ‘on the side’ for the kids (serve the same veggies over baby spinach leaves w/balsamic vinaigrette & a few pitted Kalamata olives thrown on top for the grown-ups)
  • Wednesday– Tuesday dinner (remixed)
    • Chicken, olive & rice burritos for the grown-ups (remixed from the Brazilian chicken dish leftovers)
    • Cheese & hummus quesadillas (again) + chicken & veg on the side for the kids.

      Kids quesadilla with chicken and veggies on the side.
      Kids plate, cheese & hummus quesadilla with Brazilian style chicken, carrots & peas on the side.
    • Tomato & mushroom salad.
  • Thursday– (1X weeknight quick meal – feeds your family once.)

This was an off night. I had a late call for work and didn’t have a solid plan when I started dinner. Which means I made a pulled together a ’15 minute meal’.

For the grown ups, I made a quick ‘chef’s salad’:

Chef's salad fixings.
Not a lot of chopping here, all the veggies sit in a quick chef’s salad for the grown-ups and are served ‘a la carte’ for the kids.
  • Steamed broccoli (in a steamer basket, over the boiling water I used to make the hard boiled eggs with)
  • With carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and hard boiled eggs over baby spinach. With a balsamic vinaigrette.
  • I made pasta (spinach tortellini, I keep 2 or 3 packages in the freezer for the kids as a weekend lunch or back up dinner) which boils in 2 minutes with the same veggies in our salad, ‘on the side’ for the kids.

Note: Sometimes I ‘bulk’ up this type of salad with another protein (i.e. prosciutto, tofu, almond, grilled chicken, etc.)

  • Friday– (1X weeknight quick meal – feeds your family once.)

I had planned to surprise my hubby with Shad Roe (one of his favorites) however he ended up (surprise) working late. This meant a hasty plan B, shad roe for the kids and I was just not worth the fuss.   So it was a quickie (i.e. 15 minute meal) of eggs & veggies instead.

  • Egg burrito for mommy. Cheese & hummus quesadilla with Scrambled Eggs and Veggies (Grape tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers) on the side for the kids.

Please leave me a comment if you end up trying any of these recipes or the whole menu. I’d love to know how it works for you!

Best wishes & happy weekend.

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