Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Easy Meals for Busy Weeks

I don't know about you, but for me it's tempting to turn to an alternating schedule of $1 oven pizzas and fast food so that I don't have to cook when I'm already busy with last-minute holiday cleaning, cooking, present aquisition/creation, and other preparations. But I know that my toddler (and me too!) is going to eat waaaay to much chocolate/cookies/junk this weekend, and he's already starting to get unsettled from all the excitement and not eating as well as he sometimes does. So my new strategy is to attempt to serve healthyish-but-quick/easy, kid-friendly meals this week. I try to include some meat, some grains, and some red/green/orange veggies each meal. Some of my best ideas so far include:

Baked Chicken Strips+Veggies
Simply cut 2 inch by 3 inch (approximately...I didn't actually measure. I just chopped) out of fresh boneless skinless chicken breast, place in a glass baking dish with a little oil in the bottom, season with a little black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, or whatever other seasonings your family likes,and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes (until juice run clear, the meat is white instead of clearish pinkish and the outsides are a little goldeny brownish).
We also baked french fries and steamed some peas and carrots when we recently made this, but you could add any veggies you like.

Pork Roast One Crock Pot Meal

Put a small pork roast in a crock pot (I think the ones we get are usually around 2-3 pounds, but I could be wrong...pick one the right size for your family for each adult to have close to a half pound (8 oz) of meat, and less than that per kid depending on their size). Add a 1/4 cup of apple juice if you have any, and season the top with garlic, onion powder, chili powder (a lot) and black pepper. Drizzle a fair amount of honey across the top. Turn the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. When there are about 2 hours left of cooking time, add 1-2 carrots (peeled and chopped into half or thirds) and 1-2 red potatoes (chopped in half) per person.
Take it all out and eat it!

*We usually cook two days worth of meat when doing this and make pork tacos or pulled pork sandwiches the next day with the leftovers

Spaghetti
This one is obvious, but brown some meat (or bake some chicken), boil some noodles, add a jar of sauce or make your own from tomato paste and fresh garlic (surprisingly easy to do, actually), and voila! a great meal toddlers like with minimal effort!

Whole Wheat Pancakes
picture by "Jerry" via Flickr Creative Commons.
I love how he used grape stems for the arms!
I love to use the Better Homes & Gardens buttermilk pancake recipe (I make my own "sour milk" by leaving a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in a measuring cup with some lactose free milk for about 5 minutes, as recommended in their cookbook and it seems to work pretty well) and use either half whole-wheat flour or all whole-wheat flour. (If you're into soaking your grains, you could easily make the batter a day or more ahead of time.) And to tempt a toddler even more, try making the pancakes into a fun shape. Even without a fancy pancake mold, you can make a snowman by simply making three circles and using blueberries, chocolate chips, or anything else you want to make eyes, smile, and buttons. My toddler gobbles them down!

What meals do you make on busy weeks?

1 comment :

Cassie said...

Mm the chIcken sounds like a good one!
Our go-to is always eggs. It's always easy and quick. Plus you could add in some veggies to a scramble (or bacon).