Today: Apr 04 , 2020

Lipstick and Legos – Taking the Guessing Out of Dinners

15 October 2016   Holli Maurer

Delicious Dinners on the Quick

Do you know mothers that sit down and coupon, and then meticulously write out their menus for the week so their whole family knows a) how organized they are on the daily, and b) how much money they have saved/contributed to the family by couponing, or c) how fresh/organic/blah blah blah their dinners for their families are? Let’s just be clear: I am not one of those crazy ladies.

Grocery shopping is often very spur of the moment in my family, dependent on when Little is visiting his father. Has anyone tried shopping with a four year old? I would rather lick dirty toilets than take Little shopping with me. He wants most things on the shelves, he needs everything he sees, and he often tries to eat the groceries before we even get going. Last time I took him I had to confess to the check-out teenager that he had already digested a long john donut (maple, not chocolate). She was not happy. I wished twins upon her.

I usually leave the day we shop until the very last thing I do on Sundays, when Little goes to his dad’s house. Even then, I’m so tired that I don’t even care what makes it into my shopping cart. I have fleeting moments of “oooh, I’ll do Taco Tuesday this week!” or I purchase some other thing like a roast. Those things are normally still in my freezer the following Monday; unused.

I have tried doing crockpot recipes – which I love – but Big tells me that “everything in the crockpot tastes exactly the same,” so I try to mix this up as much as I can. What I DO love is that crockpot cooking is super easy and takes no brain power (perfect for me)! To save you some time, let me share my most favorite recipe with you to inspire your soul:

Directions: pour all this crap into a crock pot and cook for 12 hours. You’re welcome.

1 pound beef or venison stew meat
8 carrots, sliced thin
6 potatoes, sliced thin
2 apples, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cups apple cider

My theory is that you could pour anything into this recipe and it would be amazing. These ingredients do warm the soul though and taste so good on a chilly fall night; as the leaves from my trees drop lovingly into my yard. By the way, I hired a landscaper the other day. My mother was over (bless her) and “gently” asked me if she could send her landscaper over to “look at my house.” The very next week my yard was spic and span, until a storm hit and then all the leaves fell off my tree. Great. $175; gone.

My friend in Phoenix recently posted a photo of an amazing meal that she made, courtesy of Blue Apron. Y’all; yes. If you haven’t, you must. If I’m going to cook for my family you can rest assured that I’m not going to slave in the kitchen for hours. I go for meals that are simple, quick and easy, but healthy. I am not the mac and cheese mother, or the ramen mother. I once lived with a young single mother who made her toddler daughter ramen every night, and every night a little piece of my soul would die as the water boiled.

Blue Apron sends an adorable little box to my office every other Friday with ingredients; that are pre-portioned, so that there is no waste. When a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, you don’t have to run to the store and get some, and be left with a keg of rice wine vinegar when you’re done cooking. The recipe cards come complete with pictures, so that Big can even cook before I get home from work. (BRILLIANT)

Last night, after my twelve hour day, I got home and made mushroom and fennel fettuccine with Hakurei turnips and mascarpone cheese. WHAT?! I know. I can’t even pronounce it, and Lord knows I’d never make this on my own unless someone literally handed me all the ingredients and gave me step by step instructions on how to do it. (Fun fact: I went to culinary school in Switzerland in 2001. I don’t remember a lick of it!)

To the mothers who coupon and meal plan: I applaud your efforts. I’m sure your husband applauds your efforts. I’m here to tell you that there is an easier way to do things and you’ll thank me in the end. For only $52/week, you too can join the mothers in the world that do not put a lot of effort into their meals, and they are so exquisite that you cannot pronounce their names. You’ll feel pretty fancy, and I promise that I won’t tell the people that you are trying to impress that you have only followed the cue cards to construct your masterpieces. Your family will appreciate it and I promise, you will have a renewed sense of accomplishment. Or, you can continue to dump things into the crockpot and have the same tasting meal over and over. As long as it’s not ramen, we’re good.