Some days I feel like I’m the only one who goes through a routine like the one I’m in when it comes to menu planning and making dinner. Just looking online for recipes gets me all excited because there are some seriously delicious things to eat out there! There’s just one problem – I have picky eaters in my house. Am I alone in this sometimes miserable condition?
There are days when I’m at peace with it. But then I get into a rut where I’m making the same five things and we’re all burned out on our options. Then I let myself go there – guilt sets in. There are zero super foods in my refrigerator, the only meat my son has eaten all week is chicken nuggets (if those truly count as meat is something I’m still trying to decide), and we’ve had rice of some sort for dinner two nights this week.
Here are the facts for this household when it comes to food. We’re not a model family for anyone looking to hire poster families to promote healthy meals or fast food for dinner. We enjoy a light meal as much as we do a fried one. In fact, as much as we like fried chicken, I’ve yet to successfully make it, so I rarely deep fry anything for the simple fact that it is disastrous when I do. I do my best to keep balance in what I serve; I’m a fan of moderation. Trying to be healthy for every meal just leads to stress for all of us and ultimately fails in a big way, so we do our best to keep things balanced.
Having said all of that, it’s been a rough week of cooking. Going into Wednesday, I was batting 0-2 for successful dinners. Not that what I made was bad, it just didn’t fly with my picky eaters. They tried, but it takes some time for them to accept a new recipe, so I knew that all of us needed a break for our third dinner of the week. My impromptu menu change resulted in a classic I love from my childhood: lasagna. I can’t go wrong because it meets all requirements of an ideal meal for all of us (Hmmm…except Little Man who is particular about the type of noodles. If they’d only been spaghetti noodles, he’d have been happy. We’re working on it! Sigh!)
Our ideal meal:
1. Easy and quick to make. (Yay for me!)
2. No extra anything. (No overabundance of cheese or tomato chunks for my husband.)
3. Inexpensive! (Hooray for our tight budget! I spent no more than $8 on ingredients, and it makes 12 servings, so I have lunch taken care of for a week plus another quick meal if we need it another evening this week.)
1 box lasagna noodles
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
3/4 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. onion powder
3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever kind you have on hand…I used half cheddar, half mozzarella)
1. Boil lasagna while browning meat. If you choose to use ground turkey, which is what we prefer, I recommend browning it in a skillet on the stove and adding in some chopped onion. I’ve found that ground turkey is much more flavorful when prepared this way.)
2. Make the sauce by adding to the skillet the tomato sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and onion powder (adjust as necessary if you added chopped onion to the turkey) to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce to medium low heat and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Set up your assembly station! A greased 13×9 pan, cooked lasagna, meat sauce, and cheese. Place 3 lasagna noodles in a single layer across the bottom of the pan then spread sauce over them. Sprinkle cheese on top and then repeat the process by layering in the same order.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.