A few months ago I wrote about my new years resolution to LET GO of all the things that were holding me back. This simple goal has affected dozens and dozens of different aspects of my life. Hopefully I'll be able to write about each of these as time passes (no promises), but today, for some reason I want to write about my homemaking skills, particularly meal times.
Ever since my pregnancy with Johnny got difficult, I put cooking on the back-burner. I actually enjoy cooking (somewhat...I'm no chef), but there just seemed to be more pressing things that I needed to do....laundry and cleaning and keeping Rae alive HAD to be done...we could get by with sub-par dinners. Actually, we bought a grill for this exact reason, and Garrett has become quite the grill master. Anyways, even after Johnboy was born, I still felt so overwhelmed with all my responsibilities, and I never quite picked cooking back up. We've had fine dinners for the past two years, but I wasn't making healthy, balanced, exciting meals on a regular basis like I used to.
So that was one aspect that I chose to focus on with this whole LET IT GO endeavor. Let go of the cravings for unhealthy, lazy meals, push past the desire to rest during nap time (and do dinner prep instead), make myself make up a weekly meal plan, and find ways to enjoy my time in the kitchen again.
Past that, I really wanted to revamp our meal times. We finally bought a big, gorgeous dining room table this year, but we seemed to keep some of our old habits from when we had a tiny table with hardly enough room to eat at. Somedays, for breakfast and lunch, the kids would eat at the table, and I'd eat the computer desk, getting stuff done. Or, if I did eat with them, I'd finish quickly and make my way to the couch to stare mindlessly at my phone. Also, because Rae can be so picky and sooooo slow while she eats, mealtimes were easily our biggest hurdles each day. So many battles. So pretty much, mealtimes were the worst over here. And then, a few weeks ago, I went to a girls night with a couple friends of mine, and one friend mentioned that with her last few children who aren't in school yet, she makes sure to sit at the table with them, and give them all her attention while she eats her meals. Ever since that, I've tried to do the same. No phones at the table, no eating at the computer desk, no finishing early and resigning to the couch. It has changed meal times for us. Things aren't perfect with Rae's eating habits (or Johnny's), but they are so much better. And I've found that I have way more patience to work through a tough meal with them. The table has become family time, three times a day, and I'll never go back to the way we used to do it.
Annnnyways, back to the actual meals! I've had tons of fun making some new meals. Some of them were not our favorites, but most of them have been really delicious!
A few favorite meals right now:
Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken: So good you guys, so good! Add some oven roasted cauliflower as a side.
Chicken Enchiladas: Follow the recipe revisions/suggestions in the reviews....I followed the reviewer with the most likes.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps (PF Changs): Very good! Although I'd go lighter on the water chestnuts next time.
Cajun Chicken Pasta: This is great with broccoli mixed in, or peas, or red pepper. Sometimes we just use salt to season the sauce, no cajun seasoning. Not the healthiest dinner, but probably the yummiest!!
Honey Chicken Kabobs: These are our favorites. So easy and so good! We grill up veggie kabobs with it too....one of our favorite dinner party recipes!
THIS Steak Marinade: Just delicious!
Linguine with Shrimp Scampi: I'm a huge shrimp fan, and this definitely delivers. Don't forget those last touches of lemon and red pepper.
Zupa Toscana Soup: I always just wing this one....chicken broth, chopped red potatoes, kale, and ground sausage (1/2lb mild, 1/2lb hot....the perfect kick of spice!). Google it and I'm sure you'll find a great one. Such a good cold-weather treat!
White Chicken Chili: Another easy soup that warms the soul in chilly weather! You can do your own seasoning here, or just use the McCormick white chicken chili seasoning packet from walmart. Way easier, just as delicious! Throw chicken, beans, corn, etc in the crock pot and relax.
These meatballs: Whip them up with rice or mashed potatoes and then broccoli as sides. A fav of ours.
A few other things that have enhanced our meal times:
-Bountiful Baskets! Such a great day, and such an easy way to incorporate lots of freshness into every meal throughout our day. Plus, new veggies give me an excuse to try new recipes.
-Grocery Pickup- We go through our local fry's (same as smith's, kroger, and fred meyers). I meal plan on the weekend, and put everything in my online cart...then pick it up on Monday's. Really keeps me in budget, and also helps me remember everything I need to get, especially since I have the whole day to add to or edit my order. And with hips that hate being pregnant...it really makes my life easy.
-Blue Apron, or other meal delivery services (HelloFresh has a really yummy meal lineup for next week....google coupon codes and you can get 3 meals for $20). We've really had a fun time cooking new meals together in the kitchen. I don't think it's worth $60 a week, but that first week is discounted so it was fun to try. Plus, we got some fun new recipes that we're sure to repeat! We're making our way through all the delivery services to get all the first week discounts.
Anyways, I'm only a couple months in on the whole mealtime revamp, but I am LOVING the results!