Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's For Dinner?

I hate trying to come up with something to cook each night. I usually get home by 5:30, the boys eat dinner at 6:00, and go to bed at 7:00. If I don't have an idea of what is for dinner, then it gets put off until after the boys go to bed and Jason and I don't end up eating until around 8:30. Not ideal!

I've spent several weeks working on a 4 week long meal plan for our family. My hope is that the boys will start eating more and more of what we are eating, so that means that it needs to be prepared by 6:00. And that takes a plan... and an excel spreadsheet... which I love!

In the four week period I really only make 16 meals... not all that bad. I've planned for the most labor intensive meals to be made on Sunday when I have more time and help watching the boys... especially since football season is almost over! YEA! I also bake something like brownies or cookies (from scratch) so that we all have something (chemical free and somewhat low fat/low calorie) to snack on during the week.

Monday is Crock Pot Monday. I throw some ingredients into the crock pot after I get out of the shower during the boys' morning nap and dinner is ready by the time I get home. Easy Peasy!

Tuesday is beer and pizza night with the boys for Jason. My Mom has always stayed late to help me get the boys to bed. I am very capable of doing it by myself, but it has become a fun ritual for us. We watch The Biggest Loser or something on the DVR after the boys go to bed. And I think my Dad used to get bored at home alone so he comes over after work too! We usually have Chick-Fil-A for dinner. Sometimes we all go there (Tuesday is Kids Eat Free Night so a couple of noisy babies do not stick out at all), a few times we picked it up and ate at a park with the boys, and lately, because it is cold outside, someone picks it up and we eat at home.

Wednesday is any old thing, and Thursday is usually something easy (like spaghetti) because sometimes I meet the girls for happy hour after work and Jason will have to cook. And while he is pretty good in the kitchen, he is not one for much prep work like cutting veggies.

We usually go out to eat on Friday and I don't plan anything for Saturday because you never know what will be going on, and there are always left overs.

With the meal plan, I've also constructed a grocery list for each week. I do one big trip to the grocery store before Week 1 where I buy the non perishables for all four weeks and also the perishables for Week 1. Then the other trips are for the perishables for each of the other three weeks. I've put the list in order of isle number and also listed the regular price of each item so that if I see it on sale at a store other than my HEB, I will know how good of deal it is and if it is worth an extra visit to another store.

The boys are still eating baby food along with some table food. That kind of surprises me because I think most kids are tired of mushed up green beans and want to feed themselves everything. But, I'm okay with it because they are still getting a good amount of fruits and vegetables in that way. It seemed like the only table food they were eating were things like toast, goldfish, cheerios, grilled cheese, graham crackers etc. Lots of carbs there... wonder where they get that love!?

So I implemented my plan on Sunday and made chicken and spinach lasagna (with whole wheat lasagna noodles). I didn't have high hopes that the boys would eat it, but they surprised me. They both ate about 5 or 6 bites before calling it quits so I supplemented with baby food. We had left overs for lunch the next day and they ate even more then. I made pork chops and rice in the crock pot on Monday... and they ate that too! Tuesday night they got left over baked spaghetti from the weekend... good to go! Tonight I'm making baked chicken tenders and I'm not sure how that is going to go. Maybe they will surprise me again.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of Kase. He finally likes apples. The boys would eat the crap out of some apple sauce, but would not touch an actual apple. I cut them up in little match stick pieces with the skin cut off. After several tries Kase finally started eating them. Now he loves using those front eight teeth of his and gnawing down on some apple. Kyle likes apples too, but bites off too many pieces without swallowing, and ends up spitting all the little pieces out on his tray. The three of us share an apple just about every day at lunch.

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