Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's for dinner ma?

I am in a rut right now, and I am hoping that some of you other mamas can relate. I cook the same things over and over again... and I feel so blah with our basic menu. There are a few reasons I cook the same foods. 1)I can get in and out of the grocery store faster when I have my routines of buying the same foods. 2)It seems like so much energy to come up with new foods at this point in my life where I am usually carrying Gabe or having Sofia hang on me while I cook. The following is the list of foods that we eat right now. Please everyone.. help me expand my menu without killing my budget or time.
*Plain Yogurt with mangoes, blueberries, bananas, and honey served with scrambled eggs for the tot.
*Chex with bananas
*Raisin Bran
*Leftovers from the night before
*Annies' macaroni with steamed veggies

Chicken Enchiladas
Broccoli Soup w/homemade rolls
Tomato/tortellini/veggie soup w/homemade rolls
Spaghetti and meatballs
Homemade Pizza (anywhere from pepperoni and pesto to barbecued chicken).
Chicken tetrazini
Funky chicken/rice/veggie casserole

That's about it. Every once in awhile I bust out something new.... but those are the basics. Share your meal ideas por favor.


Kristin said...

I totally know how you feel. I think I am in the rut too right at this very moment. I hate it when I get that way because then making dinner always seems more stressful than it has to be.
As far as breakfast, we usually do the same things: cereal, oatmeal,pancacks/waffel,eggs. Eggs are pretty cheap and you can do a lot with them.
Lunch same things all the time too: Sandwiches with fruit canned or fresh, mac n cheese, we have tried doing small dinners for lunch like mini pizas or quesadillas or chicken tenders with veggies, but usually we stick to our routine.
Dinner I hate, dinner but here some thing you didn't mention...
BBQ in the summer time we take atvantage of that for sure! Chichen on the bbq with a yummy salad, pork chops sooo good and the bbq add some rice and veggies to the meal yum, then the basic hamburgers/hotdogs with a salad and watermelon, cabobs with chicken/steak and all your favorite veggies are so yummy on the bbq too. I love summer because that is when my menu doubles in size because of BBQin'. I'm sure I have more stuff for you but I can't think of it right now. If I do I'll let you know. Good luck!

R&A said...

Ha! I am LAUGHING at you, KARA!! You are sick of those foods? I don't even know what those foods ARE!! Sounds like a gourmet restaurant menu!! We cook boring simple foods like rice and beans, bean burritos, taco salad (and those three are really the same meal, with a simple variation)!! Ha ha!
I agree with you, I think everyone tends to rotate the same meals for a reason, makes shopping easier. We don't do recipes because I like to keep my list simple. Oh yeah and I don't like to cook. Ha, ha.

The Growing Hennans said...

I'm right there with R&A. I know I am in a rut, but my rut is so much simpler than yours! My family probably wishes that I would make some of those things.

My problem isn't that I don't like to cook. Because I really do. And I only have Benjamin who loves the grocery store, so shopping isn't my excuse either. Believe it or not, my excuse is simply that I can never think of something to make! How lame is that?! I have long told my hubby that if he would just make a meal plan, I would shop and cook each meal, but he can't think of foods either! So sad! So we end up having quesadillas a lot! I need to hire a meal plan maker!

adrienne said...

Meals are the bane of my existence. I hate meal preparation and planning. It is a huge source of stress for me. With picky eaters and no love of cooking, I have a hard time with coming up with ideas. That being said, some of the usuals we do are tacos and all forms of taco like food as others have said, pasta, with various sauce, stirfry, and I really like to have chicken souvlaki wraps and coucous. I find it's really nice to do things like tacos or wraps, because then each person can decide what they want on theirs. I have a really hard time coming up with side dishes and especially veggies. My family is not the greatest at eating their veggies (kids AND hubby) so I really run out of ideas in that department. Also, no one (but me) likes soup of any variety. Denver will eat it, but he isn't really a soup person. I find that soup can be so versatile, so I think I'll do more of that and everyone can just live with it. I look forward to hearing other people's suggestions.

adrienne said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that we love to have breakfast for dinner, like pancakes or french toast and fruit and yogurt or eggs and toast and beans. That kind of thing. Easy and I KNOW that everyone will eat it. We don't usually eat like that for breakfast so it's nice to do it for dinner.

Cami said...

Let me think about what my kids like to eat and I'll get back to you. I definitely get into those ruts too. My brain isn't functioning right now.

Shahnaz said...

First of all, THANK YOU for the rec on M.R.! She's so awesome! I realized shortly after talking to you that I definitely knew who she was. She's going to try taking care of Q next Monday to see how it goes.

As for totally read my mind! I was seriously going to put the same post on my blog, but I haven't gotten around to it. (That and my friends/family aren't the greatest about posting comments back.)

Anyway, I totally get in ruts too. And like someone else said, it's definitely not that I don't like to cook, because I do! It's exactly what you said: so hard to do the thinking, shopping, and cooking with a baby in one arm and a 3-year-old needing attention as well. That being said, we do still manage to eat three meals a day plus numerous snacks, so let me think about what we eat...

Breakfast: we do a lot of cereal with fresh fruit, eggs, and these days LOTS of pancakes! This morning I was mixing up pancake batter, saw a banana on the counter, and decided to mash it up and add it to the batter. The banana pancakes were SO good! Owen didn't even ask for syrup:) Also, I love to bake, and Owen really loves to do that with me. So sometimes we make a big batch of healthy but yummy muffins. Then we have them all set for the week. This is easiest to do while Quincy's asleep. Another "muffin" that I make is an egg muffin with turkey sausage or bacon and mushrooms and cheese. I cook up the bacon or turkey sausage with some onion and mushroom, beat eggs separately, combine them and add a bunch of shredded cheese, then bake them in a muffin tin. Again, they're ready for the week. Just heat them in the microwave for a few seconds, and they're good to go.

Lunch: Lots of grilled cheese or quesadillas and yogurt with fresh fruit. Grilled cheese and soup is a great combo. Owen loves to dip things these days. I get those soups in the carton. He thinks dipping grilled cheese in soup is great. Actually, the other day he even dipped it in his yogurt! Don't ask me why.

Snack: a lot of the usual things. Our favorite store bought snacks are Pirate Booty, dried fruit, string cheese, crackers and cheese. Our most favorite snack though is apple with peanut butter or almond butter.

Dinner: This is by far the hardest for all the reasons that everyone has said. Our staples are pretty much the same as everyone else's too. When I was really feeing in this rut about a month ago, I got out my Deceptively Delicious cookbook that I got for Christmas and read the whole intro. I made a long list, went to the grocery store on a weekend day by myself (!) and then went home and made a ton of veggie purees. It took me a couple of hours, but then I had all the purees on hand, and every night that week we had a different dinner recipe from the book. Since the purees were already made, the meal prep was quick and easy, and everyone loved all the meals--even the adults! I'm totally on the Deceptively Delicious band wagon!

Kara's Blog said...

Do you want to know what losers we are? We don't even own a grill. Yes..I love to Bbq, and it is such a great summer thing to do, but we gave away our old dingy one and never bought a new one. I will have to get one before summer rolls around. Mmm.. a grilled burger, watermelon, and corn on the cob.. can summer please get here?
Ms. queen of health.. I have a hard time believing that you don't come up with some interesting meals at your house!! I am really surprised to read that you don't like to cook.
Mabye you could get some ideas from this post to make a meal plan? We should all make a goal to cook a food mentioned in this blog that you don't usually make.
Oh yeah.. I do love breakfast for dinner. When strawberries hit, we have strawberry crepes for dinner at least once a week..hmmmm... I can't wait. What are souvlaki wraps? Sorry you have to deal with picky eaters, becuase that is not an issue in my house really (Chris would probably eat dirt if I served it to him in some presentable form). If you haven't read "Child of Mine" it is a fabulous book that gives wonderful advice on helping kids be good eaters (it may even work on Denver too :). Not that my kid eats perfectly by any means (does any toddler), but that book helped shape how I approach pickiness.
Ooh.. please do share your advice. I have liked the recipe ideas you have posted before.
I laughed at your snacks, because those are the exact snacks we eat (including dipping apples in almond butter.. we had that today. I am very curious to hear more about these egg muffins that you speak of. It sounds like such a genius idea, and Sofia loves turkey sausage and eggs.. so it sounds like it is a no fail. You should post the recipe of exactly how you make these please. I am so glad that this sitter position could potentially work out. There is nothing more important (or probably stressful) that finding people you trust your kids with. I also really want that deceptively delicous book. My sister has it.. and I really want to try some stuff, including the chicken nuggets. Are most of the recipes pretty simple?

juliette said...

Okay, here are my only ideas for now:
1. I made a bunch of pumpkin waffles and they're in the freezer. I pop them in the toaster oven and there's breakfast. They don't even need maple syrup (i don't actually have any right now and too lazy to buy more), just some butter. They are so yummy. You are way more ambitious than I when it comes to breakfast.
2. For the past 6 weeks, I have been doing a Thursday night dinner swap with two other families in my neighborhood. I didn't have to cook anything tonight, and dinner arrived on my doorstep! So, every third week I cook for 3 families, which isn't any more difficult than cooking for just us. I love it. Even if the food was yuck (and it has been very good so far), it would still be great, because I didn't have to lift a finger.
3. Lunch: La Roca.
4. Snack: Popcorn.

adrienne said...

Souvlaki Wraps are Greek, so if you ever have a chance to go to a Greek restaurant, try it! Here's what I do:
Marinate chicken breasts in lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and some greek spices (a mix from the store labeled as such). You can marinate them for as long as you like, but even 30 minutes is enough. Then I cook them up in a skillet and slice them up. I like to use Indian Naan bread (it's kind of a flat bread, almost like a pizza crust, but doesn't taste like it) for my actually wraps, but you can use regular pitas. i think any kind of wrap would be yummy. You can put whatever you want on each individual wrap. We use cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, olives, and feta. And the most important part is tzatziki, which if you don't know is a yogurt based sauce/dip with cucumbers and garlic. It's absolutely delicious! I just buy it from the deli. It lasts a long time in the fridge. You can find a recipe for it online at if you want to make it yourself. Let me know and I'll post a link to the recipe if you want it. My kids love to dip pita bread or Naan bread in it. The nice thing about this for us, is that with picky eaters everyone gets what they want on theirs. I like to serve it with coucous. I'd eat it once a week if it was only up to me! It's easy for us to get ethnic foods here, so I like to try things like that.
As far as my picky eaters, I went to a course put on by our health region about picky eating and they base it on that book. We are actually doing well dealing with it, so it's not a huge issue, but it's still hard to think of things to make. I have the book Deceptively Delicious, which the course said was a bad idea, because you're disguising food. They said it's fine as long as your not lying or tricking your kids into eating healthy. Anyways, I haven't used the book yet, because you really have to be prepared with purees on hand and I can't bring myself to do that while pregnant. The thought of pureed vegetables in everything makes me queasy right now, so hopefully later I'll use it! Sorry for posting so much!!

Kara's Blog said...

Okay.. I am going to make a goal to make those wraps.. they sound so good. I am sure that it is much easier for you to find all of the ingredients to make ethnic foods in a big city.. but hopefully I can find everything. So.. if deceptively delicous is used right, I think that you are serving these foods in addition to serving veggies as well, because it is definteley not a good idea for kids to only eat veggies in disguise and never get used to the idea of eating them.. but I am also all about getting extra ones in there as much as possible too. Oh and by the way... .you can leave as many comments as you would like my dear. I love being in contact with you. Oh... and i got your message, and I will be out of town this weekend, but I will call you next week!

Shahnaz said...

I have to go to school for the afternoon, so I'll post again later with the egg muffin recipe.
About Deceptively Delicious though, I meant to say that I still serve tons of vegetables aside the foods with the disguised ones. Owen isn't picky, so he eats it all. I just like knowing that everyone is getting extra veggies in the main dishes. If you read the intro to the book, she talks about the importance of serving veggies along side the "deceptively delicious" foods. The faves in my house so far have been macaroni & cheese, burgers, rice balls, and applesauce muffins. Gotta run...

Margaret said...

I'm getting some good meal ideas from this.
Kara, I eat about the same as you. I try to spice things up with recipes I find in mags and online.
I want to try Adrienne's wrap.

Sharon said...

I'm blogging this message because I don't know if I'll get ahold of you since you're gone this weekend. Hopefully you'll be checking your blog. The reservation is set for the 22nd and 23rd for Geahart by the Sea so we'll be doing Seaside on the 20th and 21st, then Gearhart.

Love ya!

Julie said...

So I'm the worlds worst cook, and I too cook the same things over and over. Your menu sounds way better then my boxed meals. Jeremy's cousin has a website. I think it's called
She has some recipes I think you would like on there. If that site doesn't work you can link to it through mine.

The Growing Hennans said...

I just ran across this: Maybe it can help!

Dani said...

Kara Becerra! It's Dani Harmon (stewart). I found you off of Julie's blog. What a wonderful find! Your family is so dang cute! We need to get together! We are over in the Troutdale/Gresham area. Stop by my blog when you get a minute. :)

Cami said...

Okay, so finally I'm getting around to it. We have spaghetti w/ or w/o meatballs, Hale Family tacos, braised chicken w/mushrooms, poppyseed chicken, roast w/ potatoes and carrots, General Tso's chicken, crockpot pork chops, london broil. We (the kids and I)love having breakfast for dinner. Aaron doesn't care for it. Let's see what else, quiche, taco soup, chili, shepherd's pie,chicken pot pie, hamburgers and hotdogs, pizza every Friday night-tradition. When I'm really in a pinch cold cereal. I'm sure there's more.