Something has happened that I never would have expected in a MILLION YEARS.
Ya'll think I'm being dramatic but my level of surprise is completely appropriate given the thing that JUST HAPPENED.
Someone... A real, live person who's opinion I greatly value has asked me... (ME, I tell you!)... for cooking and meal planning advice. No, seriously, this actually happened. Get up off that floor and keep reading. This is REAL LIFE.
And... as shocked as you all are, it turns out that I actually have some to give. They say that "necessity is the mother of invention" and I totally agree. I've never been naturally inclined towards cooking and I've certainly never been one to emulate in regards to meal planning. However, the people gotta eat so somebody's gotta cook. As I mention below in my email to my friend, we Chapmans believe that variety (when it comes to food at least!) is overrated. We've found a few things that work and we just keep eating them. Over and over and over again. We aren't re-inventing the wheel but we're eating good, whole food (with lots of butter) and we feel energized and strong!
I'll share with you what I shared with my buddy. Enjoy!
Okay, sister, here are the 5 meals that (no joke!) we have literally eaten every week for the last month. Trevor values routine and consistency over variety so this works for us. AND I love these meals because they are easy to prepare, relatively inexpensive to make, easy to clean up and feasible for me when it comes to calorie counting!!
1). Whole Foods tortilla soup (large - $8.99) and a loaf of everyday bread baked fresh in the bakery ($1.29).
I straight up throw that soup in a pot on the stove as soon as I hear the garage door going up (signaling that Trevor is home) and, by the time he has changed into comfy clothes, it's piping hot. I toast and butter several slices of the bread and everyone's tummy is HAPPY. I serve Laila mostly the big chunks of chicken and it is absolutely her favorite meal. If you're concerned about offering veggies with every meal, cut up some raw ones and put them on the side! That soup is 100 calories per cup. I mean, mmm... perfection.
2). A little dish I like to call Healthy Rotisserie Chicken Stir Fry
Rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods ($8.99 again - preferably the "tequila lime" variety)
Red pepper, sliced
Yellow onion, sliced
1/4 cup of half and half
Broccoli, cut into florets
Whatever yummy spices you like. (I LOVE McCormick's roasted garlic and herb spice!)
I start the brown rice in a pot. Follow the instructions on the package EXACTLY. I used to make horrible rice until someone said to me "Follow the instructions on the package exactly, silly girl" and now that I do that, the rice is always delish.
Throw some butter in a large, somewhat deep pan. Sautee the onions. Once the onions are close to tender, throw in the sliced red pepper, sprinkle some garlicky spices. Generously. Let it sit on medium heat and stir it a time or two.
Roast the broccoli: Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil (easy clean up, see??) Drizzle with olive oil, throw the brocs on the pan, massage them around a little in the oil, drizzle a little more on top, sprinkle with garlicky spice and/or salt and peppa... Pop those babies in. I usually cook them about 20-25 minutes.
~ Okay, when I get home from the store, after I put the groceries away, I always immediately de-bone the rotisserie chicken and put it in a glass pyrex. That way, I have the chicken ready for this meal as well as for feeding to the babe and using for sandwiches, wraps, etc for lunch throughout the week! It's always better to de-bone right away, rather than refrigerate and THEN de-bone because the chicken comes off the bone better when its warm. ~
So take a couple cups of that cut up rotisserie chicken and throw it in the pan with the onions, red pepper and butter. Feel free to add more butter if the veggies look dry. Melissa and Joseph say butter is healthy so, yeah, let's go with that! Add a quarter cup of half and half and stir it all together! Add more spices if you want! Go crazy! Stir it all up and taste it. See what it needs. More salt? More garlic? More butter? Anything! Do it!
When the broccoli is done, throw it into the pan too and stir it around a bit in the sauce... Now, you should have a chicken-y, vegetable-y, garlic-y, creamy creation to serve on a bed of brown rice.
3). Baked Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice
Understand that Trevor isn't really into any other cooked green veggies besides broccoli and green beans so we eat a lot of roasted broccoli. You could substitute any veggies that you like and roast them the very same way that I do the brocs. I often do half broccoli and half sweet potato in the pan because I LOVE sweet potato. In that case, (for the sake of calories) I just don't eat the rice.
Okay, so make the rice and roast the broccoli (or whatever veggies) like I described above.
For the chicken, I buy the ginger soy marinated breasts at Whole Foods. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking dish with foil and spray with olive oil spray (or whatever oil spray you have). Line up the chicken breasts on the foil and season with whatever you like! Again, I use McCormick's roasted garlic and herb seasoning for EVERYTHING. Cut little squares of butter and put one or two on each chicken breast. Seriously, chicken is nothing without butter. This is what I've discovered. And it has revolutionized my life.
Pop those chicks in uncovered. After 12 minutes, turn them over, season the underside and pop them in again for another 12. They will come out perfectly juicy and amazing. Seriously, I never knew how to bake chicken until I googled "How to Bake Juicy Chicken Breasts" and then I did exactly what the genius article told me.
After the second 12 minutes, pull them out and loosely cover with some more foil... I don't know why and I don't know what happens under that foil. I simply do what I'm told.
When your three items are ready, serve the chicken on the rice with the veggie on the side! This completely satisfies the Chapman family but, if you want to serve a salad or some bread with it, do it!
4). Baked Salmon with (you guessed it!) Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice
Seriously, you would think that we would be so tired of roasted broccoli and brown rice but we're not! Go figure! You could substitute quinoa or couscous for a healthy grain. I probably will eventually but, for now, as we value routine and consistency over variety, I'm sticking with the brown rice!
For the salmon, preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. (We should probably buy some stock in aluminum foil)... :) Spray the foil with cooking oil, place your salmon skin down on the foil. Cut a lemon and squeeze it over the salmon. Be generous. I usually use about half a lemon for two portions of salmon. (Laila will eat a bite or two of salmon but I usually give her leftovers of the baked chicken we had the night before!) Season with salt and pepper... THEN, (here's the secret ingredient), grab a pickle jar out of your fridge and spoon pickle juice over the salmon. I don't know why but there's something about the pickle juice that mellows out the fish flavor and makes it DELISH. Be generous with the pickle juice. Cut two little slivers of lemon and place one on top of each salmon portion. This makes it pretty. That is the only reason I do it. Grab yet another piece of foil and place it over the salmon portions, folding the sides with the foil that is under the salmon thereby creating a foil pouch. Make sure all 4 sides are sealed.
Cook for 35 minutes. It will be perfect! It will stink up your house! But it will be yummy and you will get the benefit of some of that awesome omega 3! Bonus!
5). Yup. Good ole Spaghetti and Meat Sauce.
No broccoli or brown rice here! This is my Friday night go-to (if we don't get Friday Night $5 smoothies at Smoothie King)... easy peasy. I won't insult your intelligence. I know you know how to make spaghetti and meat sauce. Just know that I always buy my ground beef from WF and I use the WF tomato basil spaghetti sauce!
Okay, so I buy all of the ingredients for all of these meals plus a few things like, yogurt, veggie chips and hummus, fruits and extra red pepper (for snacking on) at Whole Foods every week for around $75!
So, there you have it.
And please remember, as my dear Momo would say, "It's not a rut. It's a routine!"