Thursday, May 24, 2007


What's for dinner?

Nearly 3pm and I don't have a clue yet. I am dropping a daughter at netball training at 4.15, so we will duck into the local supermarket, and I'll find something then. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute.

It's becoming a bit of a worry - this slackness of attitude in the kitchen department. (See, I can berate myself as well as my offspring!) Once upon a time I was pretty enthusiastic about coming up with a variety of decent meals for the family, and I even had a vague plan for the week of what meals we would have each night. Even stocked up meat in the freezer with a vague notion of what meals it was intended for. I've never been anything out of the box as a cook, but I can follow a recipe, and I'm quite capable of serving a fairly balanced meal. At one time I didn't mind doing so, although I do recall way back - after nearly 4 years of marriage (I was pregnant with #1), actually saying to my Mum "Thank you Mum for all those years of you cooking dinner every night. I never appreciated it when I was growing up, but I do now."

I'm not quite sure when 'the wheels fell off', but it's safe to say that I'm finding it all a real drag these days. I'm not sure if it's the annoyance factor (that I feel) of Marc rarely being home from work in time to eat with us. Two nights a week he is definitely late because he plays Touch.. the other three... who knows. (It's not that he ever complains about having to reheat stuff - It just annoys me.) And then there are the likes and dislikes spread across three children - not that they are particularly fussy. I've seen many who are much worse, and they are usually expected to eat what they are given. The one big pain is fish, because the eldest absolutely flatly refuses to eat it. With Marc not being fussed on 'tinned fish', it rules out a few easy tuna or salmon dishes.

Maybe it's that most afternoons I'm doing some sort of taxi run, so I don't have the luxury of a couple of hours preparation time leading up to it. I don't know how people who work manage to do it! And here is me who quite frequently has several hours up her sleeve during the day.. I am sure you can't imagine what the issue is. But I'm not into cutting up veggies for dinner early in the day, and it's also a bit hard to do that if you don't know what you're having yet!

I do like variety in meals, but I seem to get stuck on the same few things over and over again. (And always chicken, too much chicken!) I try to prepare relatively healthy meals, but I all too frequently get a complete slack-attack, and do what I did last night: I bought frozen pies to heat up. (It was that or no maths!) And you know what? The kids went "yummmm... I love pies". Hardly an incentive to go creating some other masterpiece, is it?

I don't grill meat at home anymore - not when it tastes so bloody good on the BBQ - so I leave that for weekend meals, which I guess limits my weeknight choices. If I do a random survey of what other people are cooking for dinner, just to give me ideas, I usually find that it isn't something the kids would be keen on, or me for that matter!!

A slow cooker is starting to look like a good idea, but I have two problems with that. Cupboard space (and a lack of energy to do a kitchen cupboard clean-out), and the fact that you actually DO have to know what you're having more than an hour in advance!

So, this week, so far - it has been... Monday night - chicken schnitzel (lazy, chicken shop prepared type, but I bake it, so no frying.), with pasta, corn, broccoli and carrot. Tuesday night - Zucchini slice - done in muffin tins, new potatoes, pre-boiled and then squashed flat on a tray, sprayed with oil, and baked till crisp, and salad. Last night, pies, peas and new potatoes.
Tomorrow night will have to be spag bol, as an easy meal to have when I get home from swimming at 7pm.

OK, here's an invitation. What's your favourite EASY midweek meal? Hit me with a recipe... (but let me know if it's in North American measurements so I can convert somehow, and bear in mind that there seems to be some common meal favourites over there that we don't really have here - which I won't know till I see, so please don't be offended if I ask 'what's that?!!)

The kids (and me) aren't into really spicy stuff - and I'm not really into cooking Asian cuisine (like Thai) apart from basic stirfries. Some stuff I'm just happy to save to enjoy in a restaurant!!!

And I'm not into stuff that uses a vast array of cooking utensils, pots and pans etc, to prepare. If there's one thing I'm more fed up with than cooking right now, it's washing up!

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You mean apart from the 2 chooks for $14 at the local corner store, with bread and a pack of that salad mix stuff from Coles on the side? Lol!

I do love my slow cooker! I must admit! It's saved my butt a few times....tonight for example!

Ok, how about fry a pack of diced pork cooked, add chopped onion or 2 and some garlic. Then add 3/4 cup chicken or vege stock, 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce, 2 tsps lemon juice, 2 tsp soy sauce and 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (hope you aren't nut allergy people). Then throw in a pack of frozen stir fry mix. I sometimes add a tin of baby corn here. Then a double pack of soft udon noodles. This is a WW recipe and v. nice.

Other than that, the old bacon burgers or meat and salad wraps are faves!
What has saved my life (but is rather unrealistic for your family) is those vege steam bags for the microwave. Way better than having to come home them steam the damn things in the pressure cooker.

Sadly, can't think of a quick, easy meal off the top of my head. I just usually stick to the salad or vege thing. Or, if I've made lasagne or something on the weekend I make sure I freeze some for later in the week.
hmm.let me think on it. Tacos- either chicken or beef

A bag of frozen cheese ravioli and meat sauce (spaghetti type), and a bag of salad

I like crock pot stuff- I put it together in the morning then forget about it:
1 lb stew beef
3 pkgs. brown gravy mix, with water
1 bag frozen stew veggies (added later)
season it however you like- I use garlic and black pepper.

Or alternately, chicken breasts and chicken gravy mix

Also, when I do cook something complicated , I make twice as much as I need and freeze the leftovers for a later time.

I did that alot when the boys were playing baseball 4 nights a week.
chicken caesar salad
cos lettuce is best but iceberg might do
stir fried chicken pieces
bacon bits
crumbled up mini toast crackers
parmesean cheese
ceasar dressing (can get the low fat ones by kraft or praise)
i like a bit of avocado in it too
Must be contagious. I have no desire to figure out meals right now.

Let them starve!

(I feel better now thanks )
See, I have always loved cooking and really peeve people by not only thinking about what is going to happen for dinner tonight (or another night in the near future) but doing so out loud.

And we have heaps of asian - the Thai Beef Salad on Monday (really easy, I swear - although kids don't get it!) was fantastic!!

Okay - not chicken, not crockpot, not asian, no tuna, not grilled...

Do you do beans?

I may have to get back to you - currently we have 1 hotplate, 1 crockpot, the microwave and a griller as our food options and so our intersect may be quite limited...
Crock Pot Pizza! Brown some beef or ground turkey, cook some macaroni noodles, shred some mozzarella, open a can of tomato sauce, and put in layers in the slow cooker. Top with pepperoni slices, and it "keeps" on low heat for 3 or 4 hours and tastes like a pizza!
I often go the bbq chooks option brissiemum!! Like that pork recipe, and we're fine with nuts.

Rootie, I've often done the ravioli thing, but last time it really affected the Daddy's guts - and then he told me it often did! So I've been trying to avoid it, because it's really not pleasant using the bathroom after him !

I've done chicken caesar a few times, Shish.. though been slack and just chopped up a bbq chook. Maybe I should fry up chicken pieces, good idea. The girls don't mind cos lettuce, it's just the butter and mignonette types they don't like.

Can you give me the Thai Beef Salad one Jeanie? I'm prepared to maybe give it a go, as long as freshly cut chilli isn't involved.

I don't do beans of the kidney variety. Icky!!

I shall have to work on the crock pot idea... seems to be a few good recipes out there - and some... interesting... ones!

Thanks all for your contributions! It's always good to try something different. And it actually reminds me that I have a few favourites I could share as well.
Something that I'm planning on making over the weekend (to use up the very last bit of meat in my freezer): chicken mornay.

Dice cooked chicken, make a white sauce, add some grated cheese, dice some onion. Dump it all in a casserole dish, mix. Top with fresh breadcrumbs (I always have these in the freezer, just dump a loaf of bread in the blender or foodprocessor), mixing in more grated cheese if you so wish. Chuck in oven on about 180 until top is golden. Yum!

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