Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Rotation

Am I the only person who resolves every January to get control over the food budget and eating plan?   Our situation is complicated by the fact that, like a lot of working parents, I really struggle to cook an actual meal in the 20-30 minutes I have in the evening before Liam completely loses it.  I've already worked all day, and even though I like to cook it's not really "unwinding" to run around like a crazy person to try to get dinner on the table.  Lately, I've been dealing with this in two ways. 

First: I leave work at 4:30 and pick Liam up by 4:50 or so.  I'm lucky, my schedule is usually pretty flexible so I can make up the 45 minutes or so working on email and whatever after Liam goes to bed.  And, Liam has a snack when he gets home if he wants one.  I know.  A snack at 5:00 or 5:10.  But, that's how it goes.  It doesn't take much to keep him upright until dinner.  Favorites so far are a small dish of plain yogurt (with honey), a little hummus and some partly steamed carrots, and part of a whole wheat tortilla with melted cheese and cilantro leaves.  I try to avoid fruit and stick to things with protein.  So far this has not stopped Liam from generally eating a pretty good dinner and it buys me some time to focus on getting something actually cooked, and (usually) the dishwasher unpacked.

Second: I've stopped trying to figure out everything we're going to eat a week ahead (which has never worked for me) and instead use categories of food to navigate the week. This is our current rotation.

Monday: cook something flat.  Flat things cook fast.  This is usually fish, or pounded chicken cutlets.

Tuesday: leftovers and broccoli.  We try to eat broccoli twice a week, it's some kind of super food or whatever; plus everyone likes it.

Wednesday: vegetarian or whatever is hanging around needing to be cooked or looked good in the grocery store over the weekend.  Wednesday is often a stir fry and rice.

Thursday: salmon.  This works well because Liam goes to school on Thursday and his school is right by the big grocery store, so I can zip in and get the fish plus anything else we need for the rest of the week on my way to get him.  If I don't get the fish, Thursday is often some kind of pasta.

Friday: pizza! Or something else really easy.

Saturday: cook's choice.

Sunday: something that will yield leftovers for Tuesday.  We've had pot roast, roasted chicken, lasagna, and today a chicken pot pie.

I wrote the rotation on my chalkboard/magnet wall.  (Thanks Auntie Chris and Mom for the help with painting.)  Big fun: this week, you can eat along with us.  Tomorrow is chicken, carrots and orzo.

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