Monday, July 08, 2013

Summer Dinner Menu Madness

I'm officially on a diet.  Yes, another one.

This is actually Day 75, but who's counting (besides me)?  I've got all my systems in place.  Gym membership, check.  Diet journal, check.  Cupboards of diet food, yup.  At least four weight-watching apps, mhm.  And this time, not only am I doing the ultimate diet-in-a-box, Nutrisystem, but I am also part of an international online weight loss competition run expertly by my friend Therese.  (The next 8-week round will start August 30 - join us if you like!)

It's going well; I have lost over 10%, and am currently pushing through a plateau for the first time; I've always just given up at this point.  But this is not even what I'm writing about.

Summer is here.  Dinner Swap is on hiatus (sniff, sniff.)  The kids are home.  I am serving up three meals a day to my brood.  This is complicated by my own strict dietary restrictions, not wanting to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making food I can't even eat (quick & easy, please!), and the fact that the girls always want to "help" make dinner.  So here's my latest menu-planning fix:
  • Hazel and Ginger each have a night when they're in charge of dinner.  They plan, cook, and prep it with me, set and clear the table, and help wash the dishes and sweep the floor after.  Win for them: they get a meal they like AND some kitchen time.  Win for me: I don't have to come up with two meals a week, and I know that at least one and most likely all three girls will like it.  
  • Sunday = slow cooker.  I have meant to be on top of this all year, trying old favorite and promising new recipes in the crockpot on Sundays, but it hasn't really panned out that way.  Sundays have been more like leftover/hodgepodge days.  Hoping to turn that around.
  • At least one tried-and-true meal day, either Friday or Saturday.  Pancakes, spaghetti, sandwiches, etc.  No thought whatsoever going into this. 
  • Which leaves 2 to 3 days left for me to plan and cook, depending if we have the stuff for a leftover night.  I can do 2 to 3 days, though that's still more thought than I have to put forth for Dinner Swap.  For those nights, I use a few old favorites, but mostly try new recipes - but they must be SIMPLE.  Luckily, all my summer food mags have "simple weeknight meals" or "simple grilling recipes."  Everyone loves simple in summer!  Woman's Day, while I don't get that magazine, has the best website for quick & easy meal planning - their Month of Menus usually gives me all I need to fill in the blanks without any complicated searching. And if I ever do feel like cooking out of my magazines (especially Cooking Light) or cookbooks, I can take the time to peruse those as well. 
I thought I'd just continue to list what we're eating this summer on my Dinner Swap page, but for now, here's what we've got on menu for the week:

Monday (Hazel) - homemade pepperoni pizza (using Trader Joe's dough), roasted Brussel sprouts, Jell-o with bananas and marshmallows

Tuesday - Wild Mushroom Quesadillas, roasted broccoli

Wednesday - Lemon Chili Chicken, rice, asparagus

Thursday (Ginger) - chicken tacos, nectarines, green salad with cheese cubes and croutons, pudding parfaits

Friday - Lemony Zucchini, Garlic, and Parmesan pizza (also using Trader Joe's dough), fruit smoothies

Saturday - waffles with sausage and fruit

Sunday (slow-cooker) - Asian Pork Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw, fruit salad

I forgot to mention, we are also fans of eating out.  Fast casual, all the way, though we go for lunch more than dinner.  Mid-day, you can often find us at Chipotle, Cafe Rio, Subway, Panera, or Noodles.

What are you eating this summer?

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