For the first two weeks I was meal planning, I left only one or two days for leftovers and picked a few meals that turned out to be too much trouble to prepare when I was running low on time or patience. By the end of these weeks I had more leftovers than I knew what to do with and was feeling pretty discouraged about meal planning in general. But I realized that I was getting caught up in the idea; I really liked the look of the plans I had seen, each day assigned it's own menu. I'm sure for some having a set daily plan works wonderfully, but with the unpredictable hours my husband can work along with taking care of the twins the last thing I need is something else to worry about getting done that day. "I've got to be sure I get this started by 4! No matter that the kids are cranky from not napping, the toilet's overflowing, and my back is aching. Got to stick to the plan!" That's exactly what I don't need.
So, instead of assigning a meal for specific days I pick out 5 recipes to use in the coming week, but still plan on 3 days for left overs, going to our restaurant or being at friends and family for meals. I put these recipes (on index cards or printouts) in my home management binder and decide which I'm making each night based on how the day is going. If it's been a long, hard day well then leftover night is just the ticket. If the morning is going well and we don't have errands to run or places to be I reach for a crock pot recipe. Dinners that are made mostly on the stove top I keep for when Steve will be home to help with the kids.
I've gathered around 30 recipes that I keep filed in the front of my binder. Some of them are made primarily with pantry items (beans, tomatoes, rice, etc) and other items I normally keep in the kitchen. Others share similar perishable ingredients such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, which is helpful to be sure I use up bulk purchases. None of them are very difficult to make, but all of them are filling and tasty. It's been enjoyable trying out new recipes and getting out of our usual routine. This recipe is my new favorite, offering up tons of flavor with little prep required.
BBQ Chicken over baked potaotes
In crock pot combine the following:
12 oz any BBQ sauce
1/2 cup vinegrette dressing (I like sun-dried tomato)
2 Tbsp worcester sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
Add 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast and cook 4 hours on high (or low for 8.)
After the chicken has cooked 3 hours pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes clean, coat in olive oil and season with salt. Bake 45 minutes.
After chicken has cooked use a fork to "pull" or shred the chicken then serve over split potatoes. Top with sour cream or shredded cheese.