Since then I have posted a few photos of quick and easy dinners on the Yuppie Farm Girl Facebook Page
Some of you are are probably thinking... ya that is nice Miss Yuppie Farm Girl, but I don't have time to make a meal from scratch every night...But you do, you really do!
In this post I hope to give you real insight on how I plan my menus and make real food the easy way!
Where do I start?
When we first starting eliminated items from our pantry and fridge, I was worried, I kept asking the same questions... What am I going to cook for dinner? It seemed that everything I wanted to make had items on the "do not eat list".... then it hit me. The reason my family is not feeling great and my husband has been suffering with allergies is because all my go-to recipes have things on his "do not eat list"... we need to CHANGE and simplify this new way of eating.
First step is to change your way of thinking about dinner.
But I don't have time....
With a new baby, both of us working outside of the house, and not having family nearby to help, I felt like I didn't have time as well... I had to come up with a "recipe" to make Real Food Fast!
How do I make "Real Food" = "Fast Food"
1) Choose a Protein
First, I stopped thinking about dinner in "recipes". Instead I simplified it into: what protein am I going to focus on for dinner?
My weekly meal schedule looks something like this now:
Monday - chickenTuesday - pork
Wednesday - beefThursday - turkey
Friday - fish
Saturday - chicken
Sunday - out /cheat day
2) Fit in your Veggies based on what is available that week
Once I have my protein listed for the week I "fit in" my fresh veggies and starches based on what is available that week in the grocery store and for us my weekly order at the Backyard Farmer or trip to the local farmers market.
We always try to have two sides, but if you are happy with one, that is great too!
List with veggies "fit in":
Monday - chicken+carrots+summer squash
Tuesday - pork+sweet potato+kale
Wednesday - beef+green salad+asparagus
Thursday - turkey+sweet potato fries+purple cabbage
Friday - fish+asparagus+spagehiti squash
Saturday - chicken+parsnips+green salad+green beans
Sunday - out /cheat day
This concept really helps us to eat what is in season and what is fresh and tasty! There is no reason to eat green beans with your dinner this week if when you go to buy them they look terrible!
3) Have a system to put it all together in under 30 minutes?
Making dinner in our house looks the same almost every night, unless I have energy to whip something fancy up... but we like to keep it simple most of the time
Short and sweet break down:
1) We grill a meat
2) We sautee a veggie or two
3) We bake a sweet potato, spaghetti squash, or other "starchy non white potato" veggie/tuber
If you can get your head around just those three items, you will save yourself, time, money, and countless hours "planning dinner".
NO MORE "What do you want for dinner???....I don't know what do YOU want for dinner?" Ughh I hated that conversation on the way home for work. Vow to stop it now and just keep it simple!
Need a more detailed breakdown on how to execute those three steps? (I know we are all at different levels) Here is the process to get your dinner (or at least the dinners I listed above done in under 30 minutes) - I do assume you have a little help and can enlist your helper to grill the meat!
1) Preheat the oven to 350
2) If you are making a sweet potato item tonight, wash the outside of the potatoes with hot water, then prick with a knife all over and place in the over on a cookie sheet or ceramic "bar pan"- it is ok if the oven is not up to temp yet.
3) If you are making spaghetti squash, cut in half and place face down on a cookie sheet or ceramic "bar pan". No need to remove seeds ahead of time.
4) Take out you protein from the fridge, place it in a pyrex type dish (rinse and pat dry before if it is chicken or fish)
5) Season your protein with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
6) rub in the seasoning, do it... just do it....
7) Do you want it to be spicy? add a SMALL amount of red pepper flakes, or ancho chili powder - just sprinkle it on and rub it in. Want it to be Italian flavored? Add some Italian Seasoning (the plain kind, no added salt), you get the idea, just add some "extra goodness" if you want a specific flavor and rub it in. It is important to rub your seasoning into the meat. At least press it if you are scared of touching the raw meat. OR just leave it salt, pepper, and garlic - yumm - we do this many times.
8) Leave the protein on the counter to come to room temp and tell your husband or wife (or your helper if you have one) to preheat the grill and it will be ready for them to put it on in about 10-15 mins. You might have to remind them :-) hint hint
9) Chop your veggies -
- Carrots, zucchini, summer squash, parsnips- we cut these into disks.
- Kale? We just pull these off the woody stems.
- Asparagus - trim the bottom ends, usually 1-1.5 inches up from the bottom
- Purple Cabbage - chop into bite size pieces, not too small or large, usually around 1x1 inch
- Green Beans - trim and ugly ends and stems
- Green Salad- pretty sure you know how to make this
10) Get your healthy fat ready in a pan- add coconut oil, grass fed organic butter, or olive oil to your saute pan(s), place on medium heat. You can choose to add chopped onion and fresh garlic to your pan before adding the veggies, but you don't have to.
11) Add your choice of veggies to the pan. I typically pan cook zucchini summer squash, purple cabbage, and green beans. The other veggies - parsnips, kale, asparagus - I place on a cookie sheet sprinkle with salt pepper, garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven with the sweet potato, spagehit squash, or on its own.
12) now all your stuff is cooking you can take a deep breath.....:-) - meat should be on the grill, some is in the oven, and some is on the stove. You should be at about the 20 minute mark
13) Flip your potatoes over (be careful they will be HOT), if they are still really hard, turn up your heat to 400, if they are really soft, pull them out of the oven
14) Shake/roll your veggies that are in the oven (if you have them in the oven) so they roll around, or flip them with a spatula
15)Stir your veggies that are in your saute pan, add a little more olive oil if they are sticking and cover with a lid if they are not cooking along fast enough.
16) By now your helper should be bringing in the food and letting it "rest" on the counter
17) When your veggies are at the texture you like, remove from the heat and serve up your yummy dinner!
Your plate should looks something like this:
I hope you enjoy this quick and easy "recipe" to enjoy many different meals. This plan of attack on dinner will work with an infinite amount of veggies and will save you time and energy in the kitchen, leave me a comment below and let me know what you are going to try first.