What’s For Dinner?
Even with a two-week delay due to Hurricane Harvey, the 2017-2018 academic year is officially back in full swing. With after-school activities, sports, homework, and traffic, the boxes on our calendars have quickly filled to overflowing. And although the breakfast dishes may still be in the sink, somebody has to answer the inevitable question, “what’s for dinner?”. Some days it can seem like too much.
We all know that processed food is not good for us, and eating out regularly is expensive. But finding time to cook a healthy meal on busy weekdays can seem overwhelming. Who has time to shop, prepare, cook, and then clean up after a well-thought-out balanced home prepared meal? It’s so much quicker and easier to grab tacos.
No one knows this better than Aimee Taylor. Once a full-time investment banker, and mother of two busy kids, Aimee has the same demands on her time that we all do. As a certified health coach and certified personal trainer, though, she knows the importance of a diet centered on whole foods. So, a few years ago, Aimee turned her passion for nutrition and holistic health into a profession. Now she is taking her expertise as a trained chef to the busy families of Houston.
I was lucky enough to get to join Aimee in a small, intimate workshop hosted by Circa Real Estate a few weeks ago, where she gave us some very practical, easy to implement tips for taking the drama out of weeknight dinner. She even gave us a few tried and true recipes, one of them I’m repeating for my family tonight.
3 Tips For Taking The Drama Out Of Dinner:
- Plan the menu for the whole week ahead of time.
This requires a little bit of discipline but pays dividends in the end. Aimee has a chalkboard painted wall in her kitchen where she writes the week’s menu. Even if you don’t have an entire wall to dedicate to this purpose, she recommends posting it somewhere everyone can see such as the refrigerator door or family bulletin board. She also recommends letting everyone have a chance to make requests and suggestions, then doing the majority of the shopping in one big trip. Her weekly menus factor in leftover nights, ingredients used for more than one dish, and even pizza nights and dining out.
- Have a binder or electronic folder full of recipes.
If you fix an easy dish that everyone loved, put it in the binder. Start to build your recipe file with simple, delicious recipes that will become your “go-to” meals. Then add to it as you go along. Having easily accessible family favorites, rather than grasping for ideas, saves valuable time when meal-planning.
- Simple meals are the best meals.
Not only are simple meals healthier, they are also usually easier to prepare. By using the 80/20 ratio rule (80% whole fresh foods and 20% or less processed) meal preparation will be much less time-consuming.
*Pro-Tip: Vegetables should take up 1/3 to 1/2 of your plate. Vegetables that are raw or even roasted are delicious and take very little preparation.
I have already implemented two of these ideas at my house and it has made a noticeable difference. Planning ahead was the biggest game-changer. Dinner no longer hinges on my personal cravings (let’s eat tacos!), but rather on a well-thought-out nutritional plan for my family. Now I don’t have to ask, “What’s for dinner?”. I simply look at the menu plan and know. This also helps me to prepare ahead, whether that means taking something out of the freezer, or pouring the marinade over the pork chops like I did this morning.
Here is that pork chop recipe as promised, courtesy of Greenpeas and Blueberries. So easy. So healthy. So delicious.
Balsamic Marinated Pork Chops
3 Butterflied Pork Loin Chops
½ bottle Newman’s Own Balsamic dressing
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 jar Stonewall Kitchen Apple Cranberry Chutney
Combine balsamic dressing with salt and pepper in a resealable bag. Seal bag and shake well to mix, add pork chops. Turn several times to coat, place in the fridge for 1 hour to overnight.
In a small saucepan, add the jar of Apple Cranberry Chutney and ½ cup of water. Bring to a slight boil over medium heat and whisk to combine. Simmer sauce for 2-3 minutes and keep warm.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Place chops in the pan and allow to brown on the first side. Turn chops over, reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover pan. Once they are cooked to preferred doneness, remove from pan and let rest on cutting board. Cut chops along the butterflied line. Drizzle each serving with the Apple Cranberry Sauce.