Sometimes I feel like my life is one big planning session. I plan what we are going to eat for dinner, what we are going to do on the weekend, what I am going to teach tomorrow. I schedule exercise and relational activities around all the necessary but (often) mundane tasks. All this planning wears me out mentally.
The way I’ve been able to manage working full time and keeping my family eating well is to use a meal planner. But beyond that, each evening from 4:15-5:00, I send the boys upstairs or outside to play so I can work efficiently in the kitchen.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, Big Handsome stays late at work for boot camp, arriving home right at dinner time. That gives me one and a half hours alone with Little Handsome. Awesome, except those 1.5 hours fall right over dinner prep time.
I tried to get Little Handsome to help me make dinner, but sadly the days thinking it’s fun to divide vegetables into bowls for salad are over (sigh, I do miss 2 & 5 months sometimes). The way I see it, I’m left with 2 options: (1) set my toddler up with a TV show or the iPad while I make a wholesome meal or (2) make a wholesome meal earlier in the week that just needs to be reheated when daddy gets home, and spend that time with my fabulous 2-and-eight-month-old. I choose the latter.
It takes more planning this way, but the payoff is worth it:
I’m still figuring out exactly how to do this. It’s easy to get sucked into the kitchen for an extra long time on Tuesday, for example, getting everything ready so I can spend time with my family on Wednesday. But that’s definitely not the point. Instead I’m trying to make bigger batches of things and store them away for boot camp day, which seems to be working. Usually. Not everything freezes well, and sometimes my big batch is not quite big enough. We’re all still learning.
Tonight is Wednesday, so what’s for dinner? Thawed Morrocan Chicken Soup and salad, which should take me about 6 minutes in total to get together. Bring on the sandbox playtime!
Morrocan Chicken Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 chicken thighs, cut into pieces
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. paprika
3 cups peeled butternut squash, cubed
1/4 cup spinach or other leafy green, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup green lentils, rinsed (better yet, soaked 6 hrs.)
1/3 cup millet, rinsed
salt and pepper
Instructions: saute onion in olive oil in bottom of stock pot. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add cumin, cinnamon, and paprika and cook about 1 minute. Stir in butternut squash, chopped greens and tomato paste. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add lentils and millet. Reduce heat and simmer until until squash, millet and lentils are tender (about 15 min). Season with S&P to taste. Enjoy!
Based on this recipe from myrecipes.com.
Now, that’s my kind of fast food!