I would like to chat a bit more about food today.
A year ago, I found Pioneer Woman's master pantry list. It made me think. What do I absolutely need in my pantry? What items do I rarely, if ever, use?
So, I decided to streamline the pantry. I have a master list of all the items I use on a regular basis. I do the best I can to keep them in stock.
Over the past eight months or so, as I've considered what it will be like to feed seven people, I have started changing things.
I want to feed my family whole foods, but I also need meals that don't take 95 minutes to prepare. I need things that aren't hyper-expensive, and I need highly nutritious. That's a tall order.
Here is what I've done:
Crock Pot Oatmeal: We pop it in the night before (4 cups water, 1 cup steel cut oats, little pinch of salt, generous dash of cinnamon). Cook it on warm all night and it's ready in the morning.
We are also big homemade granola fans; I think our crock pot oatmeal meals will evolve into granola in the summer. You can find my recipe here.
Pancakes: I stopped mixing up individual batches of pancakes. I started making GINORMOUS batches of the dry mix with Simon's help, and then I just add in the wet ingredients before I start flipping. So much easier.
Breakfast Sandwiches: I fry one egg per person. I throw whole wheat English muffins in the toaster oven. When the eggs are done, I add some cheese and put them on the muffin. This is the least economical option, but it's easy and filling. I stopped making my own English muffins for now because, seriously Ami, you are not going to have time for that later.
For an occasional treat (and when we have extra apples), I make Baked Apple Puff. It's Simon's favorite, so I started mixing all the dry ingredients ahead and storing them in Ziplocs. When it's time to make it, I just grab a bag of the dry ingredients, slice the apples, and get going.
The only other breakfast option we keep returning to is scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. I usually serve this as a brunch, though, as my boys eat a LOT of it and it keeps them full for a long time.
Bean Burritos: First I make a big batch of refried beans. We form an assembly line and put together about 4 dozen. Then we freeze them.
Baked Potatoes: At least twice each week, for the last several months, this has been standard fare. We put all kinds of things on top (cheese, salsa, sour cream, broccoli, etc.), but sometimes we simply have salt, pepper, and butter. My boys haven't complained one time about these. Great option for us. So easy to wash 'em and pop 'em in the oven. Super filling and super cheap.
Lunch Trays: This is more popular for us in the summer, but we've used them almost weekly this winter. You can read more about this option in this post. Cheese cubes, apple slices, crackers, olives, hard boiled eggs, carrot sticks, celery, etc. They all have found their way on to our lunch trays!
That's it. Just those three options have kept us going for months. It's working!
I was a menu planner. Every week was different. Every month was different. I would sit and make it perfect. We wouldn't repeat the same meal for an entire month! Job well done!
But we don't need that many options. Maybe you do. That's fine. But I never have to menu plan again. Here is why:
Monday: salmon, side (rice, potatoes, or pasta ~ depends what we have on hand), green veggie
Tuesday: pasta night
most likely spaghetti, sometimes baked ziti, rarely lasagna
Wednesday: rice night
I have three options: red beans/rice, fried rice, Spanish rice
Thursday: soup night
popular soups here: chicken chili, reg. chili, chicken rice chowder, veggie soup
Friday: homemade cheese pizza, veggies (leftover veggie tray)
Sunday: crock pot meal (roast) or go out for lunch and have popcorn for dinner
Have you simplified food? I'd love to know the details!
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