Melissa and her husband came home right before Jackie’s wedding so that they could ride out west with us. We’d had a few conversations about the drudgery of making dinner every night. It started off when her husband decided to share with us a story about Melissa’s culinary prowess. He had come home from work and she was cooking noodles. She was going to make spaghetti. After the noodles cooked she was going to put some butter in them to keep them from sticking together, but they were out of butter. Zack said he’d go to the store and get butter. He SWEARS that he was not gone more than five minutes. In that amount of time Melissa was looking through the cupboards. She came across the peanutbutter and decided it would make a good substitute. By the time Zack got home, she had mixed peanutbutter with the hot noodles.

We were roaring! Even Care Bear (who hates to cook) knew that wasn’t a good combination (love ya, Care Bear)!! Being the good husband that he is, he ate it but didn’t mind telling us how nasty it was.

As I drove them to Ann’s house the day before their flight home, we had conversations about different dinner type items to make. Zack was very attentive as I told Melissa of some of my favorite recipes. I mentioned that it might be helpful if she plan a menu out for the week so she wouldn’t have any “Oh my god, I have no butter” surprises anymore. This got me thinking about the way I plan my menu. Here’s an example of things that I do so that I don’t waste food, and so that Mark doesn’t feel like he’s just eating leftovers.

Sunday I bought a rotissery chicken from the grocery store (when you can buy one already cooked for just a few bucks it makes absolutely no sense to spend the 1+ hours to put it in my rotisserie). I fixed some Zatarans red beans and rice (yes, I know…high in sodium…don’t care) to go along with it. I buy the family sized box even though there are only two of us at home because I know that I’ll use the leftovers.  We had a side of steamed broccoli and some salad. Easy.

Because there are two of us, I had plenty of chicken and rice left over. I pulled the chicken off the bones and added it to the rice on Monday. Reheated the whole thing. Threw it onto a whole grain tortilla. Covered it with cheese and added a dab of sour cream. Voila. Chicken burritos. However, there was still some leftover chicken/rice mix. I hoped there would be because I had one more meal planned with it.

Tuesday I didn’t want to have a chicken/rice meal again so I fixed breakfast for dinner instead. Biscuits and gravy with eggs and fruit. I love breakfast for dinner. Enough of the sausage gravy and  biscuits left over to have for breakfast one morning when I’m in a hurry and need something I can throw in the microwave.

Wednesday I cut a sweet green bell pepper in half. Scooped out the seedy parts and filled each half with the remaining chicken/rice mixture. Put it in a small casserole dish with just a touch of water in the bottom and cooked it at 350 for 1/2 hour…just long enough to heat the chicken/rice all the way through and soften up the pepper. I made broccoli/strawberry/feta salad for a side dish.

From that one rotisserie chicken I got three meals out of it. I try to plan my meals like that. I don’t ever feel like I’m eating leftovers, even though I am. I get a good variety in my meals, and I’m not slaving over a hot stove every night after work. I use the same concept whenever I cook a roast. Left over roast and gravy over toast is awesome. Roast beef sandwiches. Shephards pie. All meals you can make with leftover roast. Chili can also be used in a number of different type meals. I almost always have chili burritos with my left over chili. I don’t like hot dogs, but I will eat a chili cheese dog. Chili pie (smashed up corn chips as the pie crust, chili over the top of it, cheese over the top of that, served with a dollop of sour cream…OMG!).

You don’t have to get stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking dinner. Just be creative with one main meal during the week and you can easily get two or three other meals made with little to no effort.

Or you can have a bowl of cereal every night.

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