One of my biggest daily challenges is to try to get a healthy meal on the table that the whole family will enjoy, while still shuttling kids to their afterschool activities. But often after working and then doing homework with the kids and driving them to their stuff, I succumb and just throw together some pasta and sauce or end up ordering takeout. I know it’s a bad habit.
Sometimes I will actually plan out the meals for the week on Sunday, and then head to the grocery store, and then chop up some of those fruits and veggies so they are ready to go. That of course is always the plan, but often the weekend fun and busy week gets in the way of my best laid plans.
Of course now that I am on summer vacation (Yippee!!) I am returning to my blog as well as my less busy schedule with the kiddos, and I’d like to share a few of my tricks that have worked to help me keep my sanity in that busy rush hour of dinnertime. And please let’s be real, I don’t do these every week, but when I do these it certainly makes mealtime smoother.
1. Plan Ahead and Write It Down
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember all the stuff I’ve got scheduled on a daily basis, let alone what I decided and purchased at the grocery store. Solution? Write down your meals for the week somewhere easy for you to find. For me that’s on my phone and on the whiteboard in the kitchen. Yes. I write it in two spots. I do this mostly because when I’m running errands sometimes I get this idea in my head that I don’t have anything for dinner, so I stop and buy groceries unnecessarily. Crazy, right?
Whether it be chopping up carrots into many forms or spending $5.99 for a rotisserie chicken, do yourself a favor and take advantage of the down time you have to prepare some part of your meals in advance. This tactic doesn’t always happen, but again, it makes putting a healthy meal on the table more likely if you’ve already got the components of it ready to go.
3. Give Yourself a Day Off
So, if you’re like me you’ve got one day of the work week where you’re out of the house all day. When you return home at 6pm, the last thing on your mind is starting dinner. I call this day Crock-pot Day most of the time. You can call it whatever you like–Casserole Day, Leftover Day, Salad Day works well in the summer–just don’t call it Wednesday!
Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups
This recipe saves the day because there is no cooking involved if you’re using pre- chicken, and it can be made on the fly.
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cooked, warm shredded chicken breasts, about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons Green onions
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Cabbage or romaine leaves for serving
1. In a medium-sized bowl mix together hoisin, soy, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger and allspice. At this point if you want to add a little heat you can a pinch or two of cayenne.
2. Toss chicken, mushrooms, carrots, celery and green onions in the dressing. The mushrooms will absorb the sauce, so no need to worry if you make this in advance. The flavors will just intensify. Serve warm or cold with toasted sesame seeds in lettuce cups. Enjoy!
Watch out for more Make Ahead Meals this summer!
Here are a few other recipes that include rotisserie chicken.