Real Simple Food Challenge: Part 2
Here’s the scoop on Week One’s menus. In summary, we loved dinner the whole week and I have to say they were all totally dead-on in terms of time. Monday’s was the longest at 45 minutes and while kind of long, it was okay because it was early in the week. My one general complaint is that we’re pretty used to having a definitive “vegetable” as part of our dinner and I did feel like I had to play around with adding a vegetable on two nights in particular. Unfortunately for week one, I didn’t think of this in advance so that was a little annoying.
As for budget, I am surprised at how affordable it has been so far. I was expecting the food for the menus to be pricey because there are a lot of fresh ingredients, including several fresh spices. But having strict plans for what we are eating every night has prevented me from buying several different options for dinner. Buying too many choices is always a budget-buster for me and causes decision paralysis at the end of the day when my husband and I are having the “what should we have for dinner?” conversation.
Week One overall grade: My family gave it an A. This week of menus really allowed for us to eat one meal as a family with very few modifications.
Here’s a more detailed meal-by-meal breakdown for anyone interested:
Monday: Tilapia with potatoes and olives
I switched out the Tilapia for Haddock. That’s what my store had. I never, ever thought my kids would eat this and had a back-up in mind but holy cow, they did. They loved the potatoes and the olives and while they didn’t ask for seconds of the fish, they ate it. This one will definitely be in our regular rotation. However, this is one that could have used a veggie on the side – like green beans or something – and next time, we will be adding more olives.
Tuesday: Pasta with cherry tomatoes, eggplant and mozzarella
This was a no-brainer one for us and minus the eggplant and mint; we eat this on a pretty regular basis so this one wasn’t that special in terms of a “challenge.” But the eggplant and mint were a nice touch.
Wednesday: Turkey burgers with creamy romaine slaw
My husband and I liked the addition of the slaw. The kids didn’t love it so I just made them their burgers with cheese instead and gave them the carrots that they would have gotten in the slaw on the side. Still, a pretty decent meal and honestly we don’t think to have burgers that often during the week, so it was different for us.
Thursday: Pork cutlets with spicy noodles
I knew my kids wouldn’t eat jalapeno peppers – so I didn’t even attempt it and gave them the udon noodles with just the mushrooms. They love button mushrooms but they didn’t really care for the shitake mushrooms so next time, I might just do button mushrooms. We added some soy sauce and this was the other meal that I thought could have used a veg. But overall it was pretty good and definitely a low budget meal.
Friday: Steak with roasted carrots
Yum, everyone loved it. Adding fresh thyme to anything makes me happy but of course, I never think to do it unless a recipe explicitly calls for it. I added a side of rice pilaf to this but it was delicious and everyone wanted more.