Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All in a Day: Meal Planning and Favorite Quick Meals

This week we are talking about menu planning and our favorite quick recipes.

Through the years my menu planning methods have varied.   I have used all of the following plans at different times:

  • Once a month cooking
  • Monthly menu planning
  • Weekly menu planning
  • In-store menu planning (based around what's on sale)
  • No planning -- which translates into "Help!  It's 5:00 and what on earth am I going to make for supper tonight?"

Currently, I am trying to jot down at least 28 meal ideas before I go to Sams/Costco for the month.  I may or may not make those meals!  But, at least I have the ingredients for them!

Sometimes, when you are not in the mood to make what you've planned, or don't have time to put a more time-consuming meal together, or are missing an ingredient, or forgot to thaw your meat, or are exhausted from a day of running around, you just need a simple, no-brainer type of meal that you can throw together quickly.  What recipes do you turn to at such a time?   Here are a few of my favorite go-to meals.

Lemon-Pepper Chicken

I buy the big bags of chicken breast cutlets from Sams/Costco and keep these on hand.  Then, I just pull out at least one chicken breast per person and place them in a couple 9x13 baking dishes.  I mix equal parts lemon juice and melted butter, usually about 1/2 cup of each, and pour over the chicken.  Then, I sprinkle generously with lemon pepper seasoning and pop in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees F.  While the chicken is cooking, I make a pot of rice and steam some broccoli.  My family likes to sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on the broccoli, too.  I also make this meal in the electric skillet, which is even faster, but more hands-on, than baking in the oven.


While I enjoy making spaghetti sauce from scratch with Italian sausage, and lots of cut up veggies (onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.) that I saute in olive oil, keeping jars of pasta sauce on hand ensures a quick meal when needed.  All I have to do is open a couple jars of sauce and heat (I usually add a good shake of Italian seasoning); cook the noodles (whole wheat when possible); open up a bagged salad mix, and I have a nice dinner that fills up everyone and is generally well-liked.

Cheese Quesadillas

I keep tortillas and shredded Mexican 4-cheese on hand for a quick meal when needed.  I just sprinkle tortillas with cheese, spread butter on the outside and heat on the griddle (or in a skillet) until cheese is melted and both sides are browned.  If I have some on hand, I might add chopped chicken, onions, etc. I usually serve with sour cream and salsa and orange slices for a quick, popular dinner.  If I have it, I will open a bag of salad mix to round out the meal.

Taco Soup

I've been making this quick soup recipe for over 20 years for a simple lunch or supper.  I brown a pound or two of ground beef along with a chopped onion, and drain.  Then I add a few cans of diced tomatoes (could use Mexican tomatoes with chiles), a couple cans of kidney beans, and a couple cans of corn.  (Do not drain.)  I stir in Taco seasoning to taste and let simmer for at least 15 minutes.  I ladle the soup in bowls and let each person garnish with their choice of crushed tortilla chips, shredded Mexican 4-cheese, and sour cream.  If I have it, I add some orange slices and/or a tossed salad to round out this meal. 

Emilie's Noodle Bake

This recipe from Emilie Barnes has been a staple for about 17 years!  I just cook some pasta (spirals, shells, elbows, etc.); drain, and pour back into the pot.  I add a couple pounds of browned ground beef, a couple jars of pasta sauce, a container of cottage cheese and some mozzarella cheese.   If I'm in a big hurry, I warm this on the stove and serve.  Otherwise, I dump into a 9x13 baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  This is best served with a tossed salad and maybe some garlic bread for a wonderful meal!

These are my favorite go-to recipes.  Now stop by the other All in a Day bloggers to see what they have cooking!

Check out the other All in a Day Bloggers...

Carrie @     <>       Our Full House

Christi @   <>  Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @   <>   Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @  <>   Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @  <>   Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @  <>   Happy Busy Mama

Monica @  <>   Natural Mama

Renee @  <>  Bakers Dozen

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Happy Busy Mama said...

Thanks for the recipes. You are a fabulous cook and I LOVE your spaghetti!!! Awww! Emily's Noodle Bake. I have not made that in a long time. I have to say, for all to hear, that you excel in feeding your family meals that are delicious, beautifully presented and full of fellowship. When you put up all your recipes, I long for the old days when I could hop right over and smell it cooking. :-)

busymomof10 said...

Awww! Thanks Lori! Such sweet words have evoked memories of many meals shared through the years!!

tlmalcolm said...

All those recipes sound yummy! A think a cook book is in your future!

Kathy - mom of many said...

Elizabeth, that Taco Soup will be on my list for this weekend. Sounds delicious. About my Parmesan Chicken...I usually serve it with a big salad and whatever vegetables we have on hand...broccoli, squash, etc. A side of fettucini sounds wonderful with it. Can I come over? :) Guess what? I'll be in GA Friday...albeit not near you, too bad.

MamaAnt said...

Sounds good. Especially the Emily's Noodles!

Hey kathy, are you going to be near me????

Donna G. said...

Thanks, Elizabeth, for these great ideas!

Nicole said...

Your Taco soup sounds wonderful!

MameyJane said...

That noodle bake sounds like a winner! I'm definitely going to try that one! Thanks :).

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