Your weekend BBQ is over and you have a fridge full of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, sausages, potato salad, fruit salad and more. Some may enjoy eating these on their own, but I like to mix it up. I make pasta with chopped up hamburgers and leftover corn, mixed with some tomato sauce or diced fresh tomatoes. Enchiladas or quesadillas are also great for mixing with burgers and hot dogs. Go back to a childhood memory, hot dogs and mac n cheese. So good! I even made a salad today with romaine, 1/2 a cheeseburger pattie (chopped), diced tomatoes, a handful of blueberries and a diced carrot. Toss with a balsamic vinaigrette and you have lunch.
Having lots of leftovers is one of the few times you can please most people in your family with dinner. Let them choose on leftover night. Someone wants the chicken from Friday night and the other wants hot dogs from the weekend BBQ. Its all good!
The mantra, "I will not be a short order cook" that I decided long before my kids even started eating solids, still rings true for the most part, but as with many mantras we all say before we become parents, what is good in theory is not always possible in practice. I believe in making one meal for my family and having them all eat it, but in reality that does not always happen For example, one child may have a lactose intolerance or allergy that the others do not, or one parent may be a vegetarian, but the others in the family eat meat. One person may be on a diet and the others don't need to eat the diet food.
Trying to make meals that have one main component everyone can eat with "add ons" for others, may help simplify cooking or those with multiple needs. For example, make one pasta dish with vegetables and serve with roast chicken on the side (either what you cooked yourself or take some help from the rotisserie section at your local grocery store).
This also goes for entertaining or a fun Wednesday night. Things like a hot dog bar, baked potato bar, salad bar, etc, can have something for everyone. I recently did a hot dog bar for the boys birthday and made a vegetarian chili for chili dogs, but also so the vegetarians would have something to eat.
I try to make one meal for my family, but have one very picky eater. I try to put something on everyone's plate that he will eat, so he doesn't think he is getting special treatment :) For example, I make smoothies for the kids to drink with dinner, when I have a feeling he won't eat the dinner, so he will still get nutrients, be full and not wake up hungry at 4am.
I have been trying to simplify my cooking more and more now that the boys are really acting their age (2) and not giving me longer periods of time where I can be in the kitchen. Here is an example of a day of meals in our house.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs (eggs + chive cottage cheese), tomatoes and grapes.
AM snack: grapes, fruit leather, apple and carrot pouch (they get snacks throughout my Stroller Strides class so they don't scream and I can work out!)
Lunch: wheat thins, carrots, white bean hummus (I love Trader Joe's), bananas
PM snacks: whole wheat goldfish and raisins
Dinner: Pizza, pineapple and chicken skewers and smoothies
I recently made the best pizza I have ever made!! You have to pat yourself on the back sometimes :) I used whole wheat dough from the grocery store and baked it after brushing it with olive oil until just about cooked. Then I brushed the dough with pesto, topped it with mozzarella (I find using the blocks of mozzarella and shredding myself melt better than already shredded, but both are good), then sliced tomatoes and placed them on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until cheese is melted.
Cooking bucket list update:
If you have been following my blog, you know that I am cooking my way through a cooking bucket list. For Father's Day I tackled lobster as part of a clam bake. I'm glad the boys were asleep and Tim and Karina were out of the house, so no one heard me scream when the lobster flipped himself out the pot before I could get the cover on. I over cooked it a little bit, but wanted to be sure it was cooked. Next time I'll probably buy it already steamed. The clambake turned out well and Karina was eating clams like they were going out of style. The boys left the clams, but did try the shrimp.