Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dinner Blues

School has started, ministries are kicking off, life is in full swing, and I have flecks of beef popsicle melting in my hair. I got the dinner blues, baby.

In an effort to not eat Aunt Jemima Complete Pancake Mix pancakes for dinner more than once a week, I am trying to get better organized on the cooking front. I have perfected the art of meat muffins, which, as funky as they sound, are a life saver. Anything you can make in bulk out of ground beef can be frozen in individual servings in a muffin tin. My favorites are sloppy joes and taco meat.

A recipe I learned from my friend Shelley is to put all of the ingredients for beef stew in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the potatoes or they won't keep well. You can store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for future use. (This is how I ended up with beef stew popsicle all over my head. I had just a little trouble getting the block out of the ziploc bag. Shards of broth were flying...I almost got the goggles out of my kids' tool box.)

Last weekend I decided at the last minute to attend our block party, which of course meant I needed a dish to pass. A single serving of chili saved the day. That, and my love of all things cheese. I spread cream cheese in a pie plate, topped that with the chili, and sprinkled it with some shredded cheddar. While that was baking I ran to Pick-n-Save for tortilla chips. Voila'...a dish to pass.

My downfall, though, to preplanning, is skimming, not reading, the recipe. I made a big pan of lasagna for my mom's birthday celebration one year. In an effort to be the gracious hostess not tied up in the kitchen, I made it earlier in the week and froze it. I read the baking directions: cook for 45 minutes without foil. No problem...except when I took it out from the oven it was still frozen solid. I had missed the part that said cook for one hour with the foil on top. There I was in the kitchen sawing frozen lasagna into chunks to put in the microwave. That, and a screaming infant in the Johnny-Jump-Up swinging from the kitchen door, made it a night to remember.

What tips do you have to share to keep from singing the dinner blues? Anything you do ahead of time to keep the bewitching hour unbewitched? I know I have a lot of smart friends out there, and most of us are tired of rotating the same six meals. Let's share our ideas.

Some of my favorite, albeit under-utilized, resources are:
Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade cookbooks
Taste of Home cookbooks

If you are a blogger, let's link up our posts. If you are reading this on FB, leave your best thoughts in a comment. I'm looking forward to sharing life with you!


  1. I love to talk food! I played along over at Homespun Truth. Enjoy.

  2. Oh Debbie, Oh Debbie, if only I was close enough we could have a cup of coffee. This is my domain. I will send you my recipe planning kit. I've stuck to the same system for years now and it works, kids or no kids, full time job or stay at home. The best part... we have variety. Tonight for dinner little Blacksheep ate ham steak and homily. I dont think I've ever made the same chili twice (except my vegetarian chili). Now the really best part is that you will save money. Hubbies really like that and a full belly.