Monday, September 8, 2014

So What's The Plan?

With summer over and school and sports back in full swing, many of us are finding ourselves running around like chickens!  It's a big difference in our house because we are no longer operating on "summer hours".  During the summer we have no problem eating dinner at 8:00-8:30 at night.  It's still light out, the kids are out playing, everyone goes to bed later and so on.  It's way more relaxed and Nelsy and I cook together more often.  Now that the switch has flipped, the first full week of school has us running one or more kid somewhere 3 nights this week for sports.  We have Open House at one of their schools one night, even a school dance.  On top of all that the kids are getting used to early mornings again....Really early for my middle schooler.  With all that going on in the evenings, a dinner plan is more important than ever.  I go nuts when I fail to make a plan for the week.  I understand why people hate to cook because most of the battle is figuring out what to cook. That can be so annoying at 6:00 pm on a week night and you have no ideas, your meat is frozen, and for everything you come up with, you're missing one or more critical ingredient.  We've all been there.  We order pizza.  I've made it part of my weekend ritual to either Saturday or Sunday morning sit down with my coffee and a pen and paper and a cookbook or a few magazines and come up with a minimum of 4 but preferably 5 dinners for the week.  During these busy times I take into account the week's schedule and plan accordingly.  If you have an interest in eating real food most days, a plan is a must.
There's always a pile of papers like this one lying around.  The menu gets scribbled on the right, grocery list on the left.  This way you know exactly what you need for each dinner.  Tonight both kids had soccer and it didn't end until 7:30 pm so it was all about fast and easy tonight.  Here's how it all went down:
First thing, set up the rice.  I really wanted brown rice with this dinner but we were fresh out and I happened to have a bunch of white rice to use up anyway.  I know not everyone has a rice cooker but I love this thing because I never have to worry about it boiling over on stove (like it usually does when I cook it in a pot).  You can put the rice and water or chicken stock in there and just turn it on 30 min before you want it. In this case, I got it going right away.
Because I planned ahead, I took these salmon (wild caught) out of the freezer before work this morning so they would thaw.  There's a time saver.
I sliced a lemon and put in in the bottom of the pan.  Chopped a couple of sprigs of oregano and thyme and put a couple of cloves of garlic through the garlic press.  A quick dash or salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon on top.  I let the fish sit there for 15 minutes.
During that 15, I grabbed my random assortment of veggies and chopped them up.
That only took a couple of minutes.
Next, I heated the pan with a little olive oil and tossed a chopped onion in there.  When 15 was up I turned the broiler on high and popped the fish in the oven.
Add the rest of the veg to the pan along with a little garlic, salt and pepper and saute for about 5-6 minutes.  I had this pan pretty full.  After 5 minutes or so I put the lid on and basically steamed them the rest of the way.  There's plenty of water in zucchini so no need to add any.
After 15 minutes, the fish is done, the rice is now done and the veg is done!  30 minutes, no measuring, no following recipes, and nothing processed (ok, my white rice, just pretend it was the brown rice that I really wanted).
Kids were fueled up and on their way! I'll continue with the rest of the week as it comes.  I plan to have cauliflower mac and cheese tomorrow with salad and maybe another veg.  Tomorrow we have to be in three places at once so a plan is mandatory!  Did you make a plan this week or are you winging it?

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