Planning for Success: Design a Quick Meals List – Day 24

Planning for success - Day 24

Photograph Credit: iStockphoto

Knowing that a successful year will not materialize on its own, we must plan and prepare for a prosperous 2013.

Throughout the 31 days of January, I will choose one topic each day to prepare or schedule for this year.

Without preparation, I know I will forget, miss, or overlook certain items. If you desire an organized year, then join me in this adventure of Planning for Success for a prosperous 2013.

To receive a daily e-mail around 11:00 a.m. with the new posts of each day, subscribe to my free daily newsletter. In case you miss a post in this series, I will provide the link to each day as the month progresses. 🙂

Day 24: Design a Quick Meals List

Last week, I shared how our family keeps a Top 20 List of our favorite meals. Though we eat other meals as well, I do try to serve food my family enjoys, so our list assists me in preparing our weekly menu plan.

Another great resource is a list of quick meals for those busy days. In our home, my son has already started spring soccer. His league practices often during the week, so I seize quick meals for those busy nights.

15 Quick Meals for Busy Nights

Breakfast for Dinner

1. Eggs and sausage

2. Waffles and fruit

Freezer Meals

These meals were made in a double batch one time but served twice or more. 🙂

3. Broccoli and cheese soup with sourdough bread

4. Chili and corn bread/muffins

5. Mexican Dip, tortilla chips, and vegetables

Pre-made Dinners

6. Bruschetta chicken on crusted bread – purchased from Sam’s Club in the appetizer section, served with cheeses, crackers, and fresh vegetables.

7. Pizza and salad

8. Stouffer’s entrees and vegetables

Sandwiches

9. Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches with fresh vegetables

10. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Stove Top Meals

11. Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and vegetables

12. Quesadillas and vegetables

13. Spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread

14. Tacos – soft, hard, and salad

15. Tortellini and Alfredo sauce with vegetables

In planning for success on busy nights, keep a quick meals list handy and supplies in stock. Though I consult my calendar before scheduling our weekly menu plan, some days turn out busier than others. Having a backup plan prevents panic, stress, and confusion at dinner time.

Feeding our families seems to take so much time among menu planning, cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Having a quick list gives us more options when we don’t feel like making a meal. In using time wisely, taking time to write and post quick meal options saves money, energy, and time.

Question: What are quick meals your family enjoys?

Fantastic List of Volume Conversions

Fantastic List of Volume Conversions

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Every month our Sunday School class hosts a Breakfast Sunday. Each couple brings a breakfast dish, and we enjoy a time of fellowship while we eat.

My typical dish is a hearty breakfast casserole consisting of layers: bread, mixture of sausage with onions and peppers, whisked eggs and half and half, and topped with cheddar cheese. Yum!

Though I make this dish every month, I always check before adding the half and half to see if 8 fluid oz. is 1 cup or 2. Why I cannot remember this conversion is beyond me, but I go to my trusty glass measuring cup to check.

If, like me, your memory lapses regarding volume conversions, then posting this volume conversion chart by Chasing Delicious near our recipes will get the correct amounts in our dishes when our memory fails us:

Chasing Delicious' volume conversions

Photograph Credit: Chasing Delicious

In addition to the volume conversion, Chasing Delicious also lists mass and volume equivalents and temperature conversions.  I will add these lists to the fantastic list of ingredient substitutions and keep them close when I cook in the kitchen.

With this volume conversion chart nearby, I will just refer to it when making the hearty breakfast casserole. As you cook and bake to feed your family, I hope these conversion charts and lists assist you in using time wisely. Happy creating!

Question: What conversion do you easily forget and need to look up?

Fantastic List of Ingredient Substitutes

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Has this scenario ever happened to you? You wrote out your menu and grocery list, went shopping, and your week is on track. Then your plans change, and you need to make a dish for work or to help a family in need.

You piece together a plan and start to prepare the dish only to discover that you are missing one ingredient. In using time wisely, you don’t want to go to the store or find a neighbor that has a spare cup of sugar. What’s a girl to do?

For those of you cooks, who can change the recipe to fit what you have on-hand and the dish comes out perfectly, you might not need this list. But the bakers, who tend to ruin the entire dish when making a substitute, will appreciate this tip.

I found the following fantastic list of ingredient substitutions originally presented by Mary Jo in Denver, Colorado through the Krazy Coupon Lady network:

  • Eggs (baking) – applesauce, mashed banana, yogurt.
  • Eggs (cooking) – mayonnaise.
  • Ketchup – 1 cup = 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 tsp. vinegar and 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • Prepared Mustard – 1 Tablespoon = 1 Tbsp. dried mustard, 1 tsp. water, 1 tsp. vinegar, 1 tsp. sugar.
  • Hot Sauce – Three-quarters tsp. cayenne pepper and 1 tsp. vinegar.
  • Red Wine – Beef broth, apple cider, vinegar, or just plain water.
  • Milk – Thinned out yogurt, water, cream, half-and-half.
  • Buttermilk – One cup of milk plus 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for five minutes after mixing.
  • Sour Cream – Plain yogurt, drain water off in a sieve.
  • Soy Sauce – Kosher salt and granulated sugar dissolved in hot water.
  • Vinegar – Lemon and lime juice or white wine.
  • Bread Crumbs – Cracker crumbs, oatmeal, or matzo meal.
  • Cottage Cheese – Farmer’s cheese or ricotta cheese.
  • White Sugar – Brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, honey or corn syrup.
  • Jam – Canned fruit drained and mashed.
  • Baking Soda – Baking powder but triple the amount.
  • Molasses – Three-quarters cup of brown sugar and 1 tsp. cream of tartar (per cup of molasses).
  • Mozzarella – For pizza or lasagna, jack cheese and Parmesan.
  • Pepperoni – Salami.
  • Allspice – Half tsp. cinnamon, quarter tsp. ginger, and quarter tsp. cloves (per teaspoon of allspice).
  • Beef or Chicken Broth – Bouillon mixed with 1 cup of boiling water or vegetable broth.
  • Butter – Margarine, shortening or lard.
  • Unsweetened Chocolate – 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa plus 1 Tbsp. shortening or vegetable oil.

NOTE: When I first read Mary Jo’s post, dated June 5, 2012, I starred the post in my Google Reader. Later, I clicked the link, and the post was gone. Since it was a great article to which I cannot link, I copied and saved the article. Now you can read Mary Jo’s article Put Me In, Coach: Hit a Savings Home Run With Recipe Substitutions  from my unedited copy.

As you continue using time wisely and prepare to feed your family, reach for this list of substitutes when your plans change. I know this list will save the day for me because one of my favorite marinade recipes calls for soy sauce which I ran out of twice last summer. (I did stockpile, but we still ran out more than once. :-)) Happy saving!

Question: What substitutions would you add to this list?

3 Quick Meals for Busy Weeks

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Fitting in meals around shopping trips, school obligations, and soccer games is a game in itself.

On these busy nights, I plan quick meals to feed my family. Sometimes finding 30 minutes to cook is tough, but with 10 minutes of preparation in the morning or afternoon, I can serve my family a healthy supper at the busy dinner hour.

To give you a peek into our household, here are three quick meals I make on busy weeks.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Afternoon Prep

Since frozen meatballs only need about 3-4 hours to simmer, I start preparing this meal after lunch.

Taking about 5 minutes, I place the frozen meatballs in the crock pot, add a jar of spaghetti sauce, and sprinkle in the spices – oregano, basil, and parsley. I then stir the ingredients, turn the crock pot setting to low, and leave it until dinner time.

Dinner Prep

Within 15 minutes, I can boil the water and make the spaghetti noodles. While the pasta is cooking, I fix a bowl of salad and make the garlic bread.

For the garlic bread, I butter the bread, sprinkle with garlic powder, and toast in the toaster oven. Buttering the bread before toasting keeps the bread soft, so my children will eat the entire slice. 🙂

Marinated Grilled Chicken

Morning or Afternoon Prep

During my morning or afternoon routine, I defrost 3-4 chicken breasts for about 10 minutes in the microwave. When complete, I slice the chicken breasts in half (horizontally) which makes 6-8 thin chicken breasts.

I add a bottle of teriyaki marinade to a gallon-size Ziploc bag and add the chicken. After closing the bag, I place it in a bowl (to catch any leaks) and put it in the refrigerator.

Dinner Prep

When the grill master (my husband, Paul) preheats the grill, I start the stuffing on the stove top and the vegetables in the microwave. While the food is grilling and cooking, we set the table. Within 20 minutes, dinner is ready, and we sit down to eat.

Smoked Sausage with Sides

Morning Prep

Transfer the smoked sausage link(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator.

Dinner Prep

Start the pasta (parmesan linguine, mac and cheese, or alfredo rotini) and the frozen vegetables cooking. Then I slice the defrosted sausages and cook in a skillet on the stove top over medium-heat. Within 15 minutes, dinner is complete and ready to be devoured.

By feeding my family using quick meals like spaghetti and meatballs, marinated grilled chicken, and smoked sausage with sides, I can serve my family dinner on busy nights while using time wisely.

A little preparation in the morning or afternoon eases the time constraints at the dinner hour. With a few quick meals, you, too, can survive busy nights while using time wisely. Happy cooking!

Question: What is a quick meal enjoyed by your family?

2012 Quick Tip Week: Butter Bread Before Toasting

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Our week of quick tips is over halfway complete.

If you missed any of the four quick tips from this week, you can click on these links:

#1 – Designated space for “to be filed” paperwork,

#2 – Use disinfecting wipes for quick cleanings,

#3 – Keep your brainstorming notes, and

#4 – Power off your phone.

The fifth tip comes from my children’s food preferences.

Quick Tip #5: Butter Bread before Toasting

In teaching my children to eat the entire slice of bread, including the crust, I have learned to keep the crust soft.

When bread gets toasted, the hard crust makes eating difficult. With their little mouths, my children enjoy soft bread with melted butter.

To keep the crust soft and still get a light toast to the bread, I butter the bread before toasting in my toaster oven. The butter keeps the entire slice of bread soft, and my children willingly eat the entire piece of bread.

This little tip helps to save our family money since my children are receiving the nutrients from the entire slice of bread without wasting food.

In using time wisely, I butter bread before toasting. By eating the entire slice, my children do not need extra slices which saves me money, energy, and time.

As you feed your picky children, who do not like the hard crust on toast, butter bread before toasting. If your children are like mine, then they may eat the entire slice which will save you money, energy, and time. Happy savings!

Question: Do your children eat the entire slice of toast?