For those of you that know me, hearing that I am writing about cooking is probably a bit funny. Everyone knows that Tim, my husband is the good cook in the family. I mean he is really really good. Prior to Edith he would work all day as an attorney, and then come home and prepare a nightly gourmet experience.
Then we had Edie and I started staying home and thus cooking. I spent the first six months trying to copy him or worrying about everything I cooked and trying to measure up. That didn’t work. It made me stressful and crabby and was no fun for any of us.
We like to eat dinner at the dining room table every night. We light candles, listen to music and use cloth napkins. It makes every night special, well because every night IS special. Some nights Edie runs around grazing and some nights she screams under the table. But mostly she sits with us or on us and we share a meal together.
I’ve learned that you don’t have to go crazy every single night trying to wow your family with new food and recipes. I basically cook the same thing or variation of things over and over again. It’s less stress. Everyone eats. We enjoy each other more and we are more mindful about what we eat. Tim still takes over on the weekend and special occasions and continues to wow our friends and family. During the week though routine and ease is king.
So, here are a few tips for keeping your weekly meal prep less stressful!
Eat Local When Possible
We live in New England where there is a pretty short growing season. However, we eat as locally as possible for as long as we can. This means we can freeze things when there is a bounty and we belong to a Farm Share in season that we love. If you are around Boston’s Northshore then check out the wonderfully amazing people at Farm Direct Coop. We live for farm season and the deliciousness. Instead of finding recipes first and then buying you have to be flexible in building your menu based on what is available.
The other way we eat local is through a meat share. We get delicious meat delivered once a month. It is local and humanely raised and tastes amazing. It also means we eat less meat! A win for us all. Check out Walden Local Meat . You can get 10% off by signing up here! Did I mention the delicious fish, butter, and eggs too? Plus anytime something is delivered it feels much easier and a bit luxurious.
Cook Variations of the Same Thing
Every week we basically have the same meals. A lot of this is based on season and what’s available. Right now here is the basic pattern.
Monday- Fish Night
This includes fish that we get from Walden. It also sometimes means fish sticks from Whole Foods or nice canned tuna like this tuna which we eat a lot of. With the fish I serve a vegetable (often green beans) and a grain like brown rice or quinoa. When I’m cooking fish I usually do olive oil or butter, salt and pepper, sometimes some bread crumbs, 420 for 20ish minutes. Dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Plus, Edie trims the green beans so she’s included.
Tuesday-Tacos or a variation thereof
We love chips and salsa. During tomato season we make our own but right now it’s canned or store made fresh. Sometimes we use meat but mostly we use tofu. If you aren’t a fan of tofu, tacos is a good place to start. Get a pan really hot and cook crumbled and drained tofu until it’s hot and starting to stick. Scrape the pan and stir and continue this process until it’s crispy. I add some sort of pre made taco seasoning about half way through and add a little water too. Serve with lettuce, black beans, some cheese, and avocado and yummmm. You can also add some chopped zucchini or squash and onions to the tofu or simply sauté any veggies you have with the taco seasoning. Another variation is to serve over lettuce and cut some of the carbs.
This is so easy. Get a good pasta or other grain. Sauté or roast a few veggies. Mix them together and add Parmesan or nutritional yeast. You can change up the pasta to a grain and literally use any vegetable and/or legume combo you want. Again sometimes we might add a sausage or bacon from the meat share. Serve with a side salad if you’d like.
Thursday- Meat and Potato Night
We have meat and potatoes. Sometimes sweet potatoes. Sometimes tater tots. I prefer little fingerlings cut in half and roasted with salt and olive oil. Again, a salad or roasted veggie pairs nicely. The meat can be anything. Sometimes we even use a meat substitute like yummy Field Roast Sausages . Sometimes this night turns into just steak, baked potato, and salad night. This is my favorite night.
Who doesn’t love pizza and salad on Fridays? Or any day? Our go to is squash pizza. It’s a good way to sneak in a few vegetable. If you cut them thin enough you don’t even have to cook them at all first. We typically buy the pizza crust. Sometimes we buy garlic naan and make little pizzas. Again, meat can be added but we usually do not. Although Edie and Tim love pepperoni.
A few other things we like to rotate are:
-breakfast for dinner
-a charcuterie: salami, cheese, pickles, baguette, and a simple salad
-sandwiches on pumpernickel roasted in the toaster served with chips and cold slaw
Always make enough for leftovers as this takes care of one or more lunches the next day.
Include Kids In The Kitchen
Some days this can be hard and even down right annoying. However, it’s worth it and with practice can become part of an enjoyable routine. There are definitely moments where I’m trying to sauté and hold a screaming child at the same time but those moments are rare. Edith is good at chopping as I mentioned in this post: What do you do all day? Scheduling a Successful Day As a Stay-At-Home-Parent. Give your little ones choices about what the family will eat. Include them in the shopping and prep. Edie now loves to clean up. She clears the table most nights and loves washing dishes.
Hopefully this helps you to make your week and meal prep less stressful. Make a plan. What are some simple meals that you can put on repeat? I’d love to hear other ideas you might have!