Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday

Okay, I'll admit there are times that my husband walks through the door at 6:00 and I haven't even started dinner. Why you ask? Well, because it's been one of those days. The baby is fussy, my two oldest children need attention with homework etc., and I'm tempted to throw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a plate and call it quits. We've come a long way from the gourmet meals that used to grace our table in my earlier years. But, then I started to figure out ways to make dinner easier and still keep things healthy.
First of all a crock-pot can be a girls best friend. The key here, for my family, is making meals that are low-fat. So instead of cooking a whole meal in a crockpot I just do parts. Like throw in a roast so that by dinner time it is cooked giving me time to whip up a few sides. I love to throw potatoes wrapped in foil in the crockpot in the morning and by the evening they are ready for me to heat up the left-overs in the fridge for a killer baked potato.
Also, meals you can cook in stages are great. We eat a lot of chicken around here (lean, white meat...yes, my husband has become obsessed with good nutrition, which I guess is a very good thing!). Anyway, back to the chicken. The neat thing with chicken is that I can at any point during the day throw some chicken breasts on my grill pan and cook away. I usually do this when Little One is having a snack in her high chair. I throw them in the fridge to reheat at dinnertime. Then we have them on salads, tacos, or I make a sauce to go on top. Any prep work that I can do during the day I do. If I have a couple of minutes I chop up some onions or carrots or whatever I'm going to use later. Throw together a salad and stick it in the fridge for dinner. You get the idea. So now in the evening I can throw stuff on the stove or oven to reheat and waalaa a gourmet dinner in minutes.
Here's one of our favorites:
Make salad during the day.
Slice bread and butter, wrap in foil during snack time.
During nap time I make meatballs: 1 lb ground beef, 1 slice of bread soaked in milk and squeezed dry and crumbled into meat, 1 garlic clove chopped, 1 small onion minced, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix and roll into meatballs. If you have time now go ahead and brown meatballs in skillet with olive oil, if not do later.

That night dump spaghetti sauce into pan, throw in browned meatballs and let it simmer. Boil water for spaghetti, throw bread in 350 oven to warm. Get out salad and in just 10 minutes dinner will be on the table!

I just look for meals that can be made in steps throughout the day. It's a great way for me to still serve good, nutritious meals and still have plenty of time for my kids. And it gives us time to make a yummy dessert, and my girls love helping with that!

I'll post another Quick Way To Gourmet recipe tomorrow! And a very yummy low cal chocolate dessert....
For more tips head over to Rocks In My Dryer!


Pat's Place said...

Yes, a Crock Pot is a lifesaver! Hubby gave me one when I was pregnant with #4 son and I have used it ever since! Rival made things to last in those days! I like to get Reynolds oven cooking bags to cook meats like chicken and roast in. Just put the bag in the crockpot, cook the meat with seasonings and then--no clean up! I think they make Crock Pot bags now, but I have been using those oven bags so long that I have not tried the new bags. I have never tried the baked potato idea--need to do that!

Amy D said...

I love my crockpot! Haven't thought of cooking meals in stages.... I'll have to try that!

Be sure and stop by my blog later... I've tagged you! :)

Kristen Welch said...

Wow! I'm impressed and inspired to plan a little better. Thanks!

Sasha @ Cherished Moments said...

Great tips, Kara. I come and go with my crock pot - should be more consistent. I love the potato idea. And they are much more energy-efficient than ovens too!

Gettysburg Mom said...

At some point I realized I could cook the meatballs in the oven... which is to say ignore them in the oven for a half-hour or so...and I don't have to worry about splattering pans on the stove...mmmm... meatballs....