Thursday, January 30, 2014

if i were in a dinner planning rut...


photo by Jonathan Canlas

i'm helping coach ruby's basketball team this year. she played soccer last season and i wasn't always sure what was going on and i didn't feel fully equipped to help her. but basketball? basketball is my thing! i get to share what my dad taught me and spend a little extra time with her too. every kid needs a little one on one time. she makes it easy since she is naturally athletic and a fast and eager learner. i hope she always enjoys it as much as she does now and that there are many more basketball seasons in our future.

right now, ruby is our only kiddo in an extra-curricular activity. up until recently i avoided putting our kids into anything. there were too many of them and not enough of me. last year i was brave enough to sign them up for a couple things each and it wasn't as bad as i'd thought, but things were still busier and more hectic than i would have liked them to be. 

after we decided to simplify things a bit and started pulling kids out of their activities, i got a little anxious again. but it's turned out to be an unexpectedly fantastic development. my anxiety was fueled by a few things...i was worried that they'd be missing out, that i was falling short of some self-imposed parenting expectation,  and even (mistakenly) anxious about what other parents might think. once i was able to choose to not worry about those few concerns i was able to see the benefits of a slower-paced life. first and foremost, i feel so much more CALM. my brain doesn't have to juggle so many schedules and we can all just BE. there is more time for homework and chores and play and dinner and night time routines. i feel it all even more deeply when jon is traveling as well. so for now, this is what's working for our little family and i love it.

i do remember a time when things were more hectic and a more concerted effort and focus were required on my part to keep things running smoothly...especially when it came to dinner. i remember getting in quite a rut when it came to feeding our family each night. it got to the point we were rotating through the same 10 meals or so and it was boring and not very fun. (and remember? food is fun for me so i found myself pretty bummed out.) 

a friend tagged me on instagram the other day on a post with her half-empty meal planner (which was really cute by the way). i sent over an email the next day with some suggestions. dinner ruts are no fun for anyone and meal planning is something i look forward to every week. so here are some suggestions from me to you if things need a little mixing up in your dinner rotation...

this article is almost 5 years old, but has a great recipe for bulgogi (korean marinated beef) and a simple asian slaw. i would eat the meat over rice with kimchee and have the slaw on the side. super easy and super yummy.

this is my go-to recipe for carbonara from ms. ray herself. i learned lots of cooking basics from 30 minute meals and i'll always be grateful for food network. i would serve it with callie salad and some bread broiled for a few minutes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

everyone should have a good roast chicken in their dinner repertoire. this is a good one.

chicken legs are always a hit around here. here's a tasty version to try out.

this drip beef is downright addicting. there's two options as far as flavor profile and you can even make it in the crock pot!

this soup looks hearty and satisfying for a cold winter night.

i'll always recommend my spaghetti sauce...because it takes about 20 minutes to throw together in the morning and then you can freeze the extra 3 quarts you'll have after dinner for another night when you don't even WANT to cook. and it's pretty tasty if i do say so myself.

the smitten kitchen blog has a spectacular feature...there's a link on the side bar that reads "surprise me". click on it and it will pull up a random recipe from deb's YEARS of blogging. it's really so fun. i came across this pasta dish when making the list to email my friend.

and are you just too worn out and busy to cook? jenny over at "dinner a love story" compiled a great list of packaged dinners you can feel good about feeding your family.

and really, sometimes take-out is just what the doctor ordered. sounds good for me tonight!

and p.s. to receive a couple extra "if i were..." menu ideas and secret recipes every month that i only share via email click here. i'll also be sending out recipes every once in a while for testing and feedback. so fun, yeah?


  1. Oh Callie, you are such a life saver!! I love these recipes. Thank you! :)

  2. Confession: I clicked on the great list of packaged dinners you can feel good about feeding your family first - ha!! Next up is the bulgogi though. Yum. Also, I just found the America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cook book that you gave me and have been making delicious plans for the few nights a week that I don't have time to cook something fun at dinner time because of schedules. We've tried the dirty beans and rice already and it was super yummy!

  3. Awesome! Can't wait to try these out.