Monday, December 1, 2014

My Favorite "Go-To" Meals

I used to be in the camp that thought that surely moms that stayed home could get dinner on the table, right? It's not that hard. I can now tell you from a working and staying home  standpoint, that it has been even harder for me to get dinner on the table. I don't think it matters if you work or stay home, I think it matters that whether or not you have children at home. I think that's the deciding factor.

Since becoming a mother, I've had to fine tune my meal planning strategies and implement some different approaches to preparing meals so that we get wholesome food on our table each night.

One of my biggest assets to  successfully getting us to eat well all week long is to meal plan. I used to have a fairly reliable system in place--now I've gotten an even more reliable system down.

easy healthy meals

I have 20 "Go-To" meals that I select from every month. I fill in the remaining days with new meals I want to try, more indulgent meals (or more time consuming meals), family Sunday dinners at my mom's house, and the occasional meal out.  Here are my top twenty quick, easy, wholesome meals that we prepare every month:

Spaghetti with whole wheat Noodles or zucchini noodles (Using this homemade sauce)

Meatloaf with Roasted Vegetables (I alternate between this more traditional recipe and this or this for a different twist)

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak (Also makes a great freezer meal--you don't have to cook the meat beforehand. I usually buy enough for two meals and prepare one for the crock pot and one for the freezer)

Hamburgers with or without the bun

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff (no cream of mushroom/anything soup) with Whole Wheat Noodles and Green Beans

Easy Salmon with Roasted Vegetables or Asparagus

Shrimp "Fried" Rice (We use Zach's mom's recipe, but here is a similar recipe)

One Pan Chicken Dinner

Terriyakki Chicken (I use boneless/skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs. This also makes an excellent freezer meal)

Turkey Burgers with Oven Roasted Potatoes (and additional vegetables as desired)

Skinny Chicken Parmesan served with Grilled Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash

Baked Chimichangas served with Salad (made with ground turkey)

Crock pot Chicken Fajitas

Baked Chicken Strips with Roasted Potatoes/Vegetables

Chicken Quesidillas (an assortment of variations found on Pinterest)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (clean eating recipe and more delicious than any recipe we've ever tried)

Breakfast for Dinner

Homemade Pizza (with this whole wheat pizza dough)

Once a month (at least) in the cooler months we have stew/soup and in the warmer months salad.
Here are a few favorite stew/soup recipes 1, 2, 3 (and chili)
Here are a few favorite salad recipes 1, 2, 3

(To find more easy to make and wholesome meal ideas follow me on Pinterest!)

Additional Tips:
*The witching hour is a real thing and it happens like clockwork around 5 p.m. This means two things: I LOVE the crock pot and if I'm not making a meal in the crock pot, I prep all of the items for the meal before 5 p.m. I meal prep consistently throughout the day so that by 5, dinner is ready to put in the oven or cook on the stove. Most nights I wait until Zach's home if it requires my full attention, but if not, I stick it in the oven to try to have a consistent meal time.

*When I meal plan I pick ONE new meal that I want to try first and then try to find a meal from my "Go-To" list that shares similar ingredients. Then I pick a second new meal and try to match the ingredients to another "Go-To" list, and so on. It keeps the budget low, the weekly meals interesting, and cooking fun.

Do you meal plan? What's your meal planning secret to success?

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