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Need help planning a tasty meal every night for your family? We’ve got you covered.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
School’s back in session for much of Southwest Virginia, which means kids everywhere are groaning about homework and parents are moaning at the thought of putting dinner on the table every night.
My friends with children all describe the same conundrum: By the time they get home from work and the kids get home from extracurricular activities, how do you fit in dinner, homework and a reasonable bedtime?
The key to cutting the fast-food budget and serving a relatively healthy meal every night is, of course, planning. This can be achieved by cooking extra over the weekend, but another proven solution involves turning one night’s meal into something easy and enticing the next evening.
In my household, the prospect of having something different for dinner every night is always more exciting than eating the same dish two or three nights in a row.
With that in mind, I developed a chart that begins with some popular and common courses: roasted or grilled chicken, pork roast, roast beef, hamburgers and mixed vegetables. Next, I did a little homework and came up with six different ideas for repurposing leftovers, including as a sandwich, salad, ethnic dish, casserole or pasta dish, soup or stew, and everyone’s favorite — breakfast for dinner.
Many of these suggestions are easy enough to throw together without specific instructions, but the more unusual options are spelled out in recipes you'll find in the sidebar. I hope these will become a regular part of your weeknight repertoire, or will at least make a few nights easier on Mom and Dad.
What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers? Share ideas on my blog at blogs.roanoke.com/fridgemagnet.
Sandwich: Cuban sandwich with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on grilled bread
Salad: Warm salad of grilled zucchini, onion, bell pepper, pork and arugula dressed with red wine vinaigrette
Ethnic: Fried rice cooked with chopped pork, carrots, peas, egg, green onion and soy sauce to taste
Casserole/pasta: Barbecue and cornbread casserole (see recipe in sidebar)
Soup/stew: Pork tortilla soup (see recipe in sidebar)
Breakfast for dinner: Pork hash with potatoes, onion, and bell pepper topped with a fried egg
Sandwich: Chicken salad melt on toasted English muffins with sliced tomato and cheese
Salad: Southwestern salad with chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and tortilla pieces over greens. Serve with salsa or your favorite dressing.
Ethnic: Enchiladas with chicken, onions and green chilies wrapped in tortillas and topped with enchilada sauce and cheese
Casserole/pasta: Rotini tossed with pesto, chicken and steamed green beans and garnished with grated Parmesan
Soup/stew: Cheesy chicken corn chowder (see recipe in sidebar)
Breakfast for dinner: Savory pancakes (from a mix) with added shredded chicken, cheese, pre-cooked hash browns and green onions. Top with white gravy, if desired.
Sandwich: Sliced beef, caramelized onions, watercress, tomatoes, mustard and/or horseradish sauce on a baguette
Salad: Black and blue salad: mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, sliced beef, blue cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette
Ethnic: Fajitas with sliced beef, sauteed onions and green peppers, salsa and sour cream in soft tortillas
Casserole/pasta: Philly cheesesteak casserole (see recipe in sidebar)
Soup/stew: Ramen noodles (discard seasoning packet) cooked in beef broth with chopped beef, carrots, garlic, green onion and a dash of soy sauce
Breakfast for dinner: Creamed chipped beef over toast with scrambled eggs
Sandwich: Greek burgers with feta tzatziki sauce (see recipe in sidebar)
Salad: Taco salad: lettuce, crumbled burger, tomato, cheese, salsa, sour cream and corn chips (optional: pinto beans)
Ethnic: Quesadillas with chopped burger, refried beans, sauteed onions, cheese, Mexican spices
Casserole/pasta: Goulash with crumbled burger, sauteed onions, green peppers and celery; canned tomatoes and Hungarian paprika
Soup/stew: Vegetable beef soup: beef broth, chopped burger, mixed vegetables, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and macaroni
Breakfast for dinner: Burrito with crumbled burger, peppers, onion, scrambled egg, shredded cheddar, cilantro and salsa
Sandwich: Grilled cheese with ham, Gruyere and Dijon mustard on buttered bread
Salad: Chef salad with chopped ham and choice of salad toppings and dressing
Ethnic: Carbonara with ham (see recipe in sidebar)
Casserole/pasta: Hash brown casserole: thawed frozen hash browns, chopped ham, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, onions, cheddar cheese
Soup/stew: Bean and ham soup: chicken broth, white beans, chopped ham, Italian canned tomatoes
Breakfast for dinner: Omelets with ham and cheese, served with fruit
Sandwich: Veggie pita: warmed veggies, Provolone cheese, and hummus in a pita
Salad: Cold quinoa salad: cooked quinoa, vegetables, chick peas, feta cheese, black olives and Italian dressing
Ethnic: Pizza with a pre-made crust, tomato or Alfredo sauce, vegetables and mozzarella cheese
Casserole/pasta: Pasta Alfredo tossed with vegetables
Soup/stew: Thai vegetable stew (see recipe in sidebar)
Breakfast for dinner: Veggie frittata with a side salad