Monday, February 16, 2015

Family meals 2: guest blogger Laurel

Please welcome our first guest blogger... my friend, Laurel!

Here's her intro and a list of meals her family ate last week. ENJOY!

My husband Josh and I have four children, ages 1 to 8 years old. We live the suburban life outside of Philadelphia. My husband loves football, basketball, and baseball, and I love reading, music and more reading.  We both love the outdoors though.  We have had many dates hiking in state parks, ice skating, skiing and swimming.

I stopped working at a pharmaceutical company after our first baby came along.  I can remember when my husband and I were newlyweds and thought "Hamburger Helper" was serious cooking. Once I stopped working I was able to slowly gain confidence and experience with ingredients and recipes. Now that we have at least three pretty good eaters, meal planning has become necessary... especially when they are always asking "what's for dinner?"!

We have a whiteboard in our kitchen with the week's activities and schedule, and I began adding the menu two years ago as our first kindergartner learned to read.

My husband is a big salad eater, and no one in the family enjoys cooked vegetables too much, so we have salad or raw veggies with dinner almost every night. In the summer we grill almost every night.  Josh does the grilling and I do everything else.  In the winter I typically cook all of the meals. Sometimes I prep the dinner in the morning, but I usually don't have my act together to do this! I can barely get the morning breakfast dishes cleaned up!

I love reading recipes and cookbooks.  I try to make most things from scratch, although my bread machine died a few years ago and I never replaced it, so supermarket bakery bread is usually on the table.  We also keep the freezer stocked with Trader Joe's meatballs! No shame there.

I typically plan the meals sometime Sunday or Monday.  I keep our pantry and freezer stocked with standby ingredients for the days that I don't have a plan going.  On Tuesdays I usually head to Giant Supermarket, but often go out again Thursday or Friday to a different type of store like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  About every six weeks I try to hit Costco and stock up on our favorite items (salsa, salmon, berries, kielbasa...).

Last week's meals were not planned very well, as the baby was getting over an ear infection and boycotting naps.  I only had two nights planned out by Monday morning.  But this is real life, so here's what ended up getting on the table!

Monday: (a hard day!) baked ham, cheese and spinach wraps (honey mustard on ours; the kids eat them dry), baked sweet potato wedges, raw veggies.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! Tuesday is piano lesson afternoon, and my mom babysits for the littles and then stays for supper.  She loves tacos! We all do actually! I typically have both crunchy and soft shell tacos.  We do ground turkey or chicken.  I fried up peppers and onions and also put out lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and some pineapple salsa and guacamole from Whole Foods.  Sometimes I have rice and beans.  I did have the beans, but no rice that day.

Wednesday: a CRAZY day. Six kids by 3:30 pm. Baby did not nap. Two cousins were over for the afternoon, and I drove one of them home at 5pm (round trip is about 35 minutes).  This put me up against dinnertime on Kids' Club night at church (Josh drives them and stays for boy's club).  Before I left to take my niece home, I put two Trader Joe's chicken pot pies in the oven, and when I got home Josh was serving the kids leftover tacos.  I thanked God for freezer meals, and gratefully sat down and ate that pot pie!

Thursday: A quieter day...only one outing.  By the afternoon I was craving soup since it was so cold outside.  This was a day that I had not planned dinner, so I made a soup with San Marzano tomatoes, veggies and orzo, and served rolls from the freezer, plus salad with lots of seeds and nuts since the soup had no meat (and Josh prefers meals with meat!).  I made homemade ranch dressing -- it makes soup and salad more special!

Friday: the favorite meal of the entire family: salmon.  We almost always bake it with a rub made of dijon, garlic, brown sugar, coriander, ginger and s&p. I made orzo with chicken broth and stirred in 1/2 cup of fresh Parmesan before serving.  It was serious comfort food.  Vegetable was salad.

Saturday: Valentine's Day! My sister was babysitting for us so that we could go out to dinner at 8pm. I baked the rest of the salmon for her and the kids, with sweet potato wedges and sugar snap peas.  Then we gave lots of kisses, walked out the door and drove through the snow to our favorite restaurant!! :) Bliss.

Sunday: Takeout!

Thanks so much, Laurel! I am so inspired by your honest, flexible approach to meal planning! 

If you are interested in sharing what your family ate as part of our family meals series, let me know! I'd love to have your perspective. 

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