Cooking Ahead and Eating Lighter (and Simple)This Week

Without such a full house of hungry people to feed,  just 3 of us during the week, we’ve slid into some bad habits.  We’ve been eating out too much, and finding it so easy to get takeout instead of plan, shop and cook.

This week, right after church my sweet boy said, “Mom, I’ll take us all out to eat at LaBamba if you’ll cook food for me to take this week.”  I hadn’t cooked for him in a couple of weeks.  We had gone out to eat a more expensive meal for my birthday the night before so I had been planning to cook something simple (tacos) for lunch.  He knew if I cooked  lunch I wouldn’t want to turn right around and stand on my feet (plantar fasciitis) for more cooking.  When I send food with him I usually send a lot, so it isn’t quick unless I’ve done something in the slow cooker.

Y’all, at times it’s still hard, these kids growing up.  But, more and more they keep showing me some reasons why sometimes it’s a little sweet.  Like when they take you out for lunch on their dime.  Or give you $ for a weekend at the beach for your birthday.

We’ve all been wanting to eat a little better, my boy included.  It helps when we’re all on the same page that way.  I made a quick trip to the store and this is what I came up with for this week.  I hoped that for those of us at home, having something already cooked, and food that could be mixed and matched we wouldn’t be so tempted to pick something up. The plan has been a success.  For this week 🙂

I cooked several things we could mix and match to have some variety.

  • I pan-fried about 25 chicken breasts
  • Baked 15 sweet potatoes
  • Cooked a pile (a bunch, several cans) of green beans
  • browned 3-4 pounds of ground chuck and made taco meat with it .  I bought burrito sized tortillas, soft taco size, already had regular hard taco shells and I bought salad ingredients for taco salad for plenty of variety.
  • I bought a head of romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, feta cheese and mexican cheese to use for taco salad or salad with the pan-fried chicken or side salad with the sweet potatoes and chicken.

I started the potatoes baking first, got the chicken started, then the green beans, last the taco meat.  I cooked it all, packed Evan’s food, put ours away and cleaned the kitchen.  We’ve eaten this food each day but only made the big cooking mess once and I’ve enjoyed that.

I sent some of each with Evan, and kept some of all of it for us.  Jay and I enjoyed eating the chicken a variety of ways and didn’t get tired of it so we never even ate taco meat.  When I saw we weren’t going to eat it I put most of ours in the freezer.  Jessie enjoyed the burritos and soft tacos.

The Chicken

I pan-fried the chicken in a little peanut oil and seasoned the chicken with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  Although I’ve pan-fried chicken this way for years I realized something just this time.  The breast pieces that were the best and most moist (others were dry and not soft) were the ones that I cooked on med-high while they  browned and then covered them and turned them down to medium or medium low where they kind of steamed and kept the moisture in better.

Although it’s creole seasoning and can be spicy, you can control that somewhat by the amount you use.  This is a delicious seasoning that we all like, but I don’t put too much because some don’t like it as spicy as others.

 

I washed the potatoes and rubbed the skins with oil.  I used peanut oil this time and then baked them.  I put foil on the pan to keep it from getting sticky but didn’t individually wrap the potatoes.

I keep some bacon grease in the fridge for such as this.  I put a tablespoon or two and added some Lawry’s seasoned salt to the store brand (Shur Fine) green beans (with some of the juice from the can left in) and they were delicious!  I brought them to a boil and let them cook for just a few minutes to get the seasonings mixed in.  Jessie doesn’t like vegetables but tolerates green beans better than most others.

I made taco meat that could be used for burritos, soft or hard tacos or taco salad.

 

The second time we ate the chicken and sweet potatoes we switched out the green beans for salad.  Oh yeah, and that dark color in the sweet potato, I mixed 1/2 cup brown sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon to make a cinnamon sugar to use for the potatoes.  It takes very little to make the already sweet potato like a dessert.  The potatoes were on the small side so it was less than a teaspoon per potato that I used.  Delish!

Another day we had a big salad with chicken. I forgot to take the picture before it was messy looking with dressing.

We’ve eaten too much fried chicken tenders and such in recent weeks.  I think our bodies were craving some green beans and salad.

If Your Family Resists Eating Leftovers

I’ve had some friends say their family just doesn’t like leftovers.  Now that there are fewer of us, the temptation is greater not to cook.  But when our house was full of hungry people and a busy mama that doesn’t really love to cook, it just wouldn’t have worked for our family not to eat leftovers.

If your family doesn’t like to eat the same thing 2 times in a row, try cooking several things at once (only dirty the kitchen in a big way once) that you can rotate so the plate isn’t exactly the same each time.

Hope you’re having a good week!

Josette

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