Not sure about your household, but this would have to be the most constant and guaranteed 5pm question in my world….. “what’s for dinner, mum?” Hmmmmmm, here we go again – another dinner survey of the members of the house, get dinner on the table before meltdowns of children or mother, please the palates of family members (well 2 out of 3 is my win rate), have ingredients in the fridge and pantry, create interest, colour and nutrition on a dinner plate, try to not have a “boring snoring” comment from the gallery and let’s not forget we don’t have 90 minute Masterchef prep time available. Sound familiar, read on and hopefully this can help you out for your weekday dinners and avoiding the takeaway trap……
My Go-To Weekday Dinners
- Crowd Pleaser Bolognaise Sauce (3 Ways) – make a double batch of bolognaise. Start with sautéing onion, finely grated carrot, zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin and coarsely grate mushrooms. Add mince (combination of lean beef and veal – ideal for bolognaise) and braise…. add tinned tomatoes, passata sauce, herbs, teaspoon vegemite (secret ingredient) and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Serve with wholemeal pasta, quinoa or brown rice and grated cheese or parmesan. Make Shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash in individual ramekins or bake small burrito wraps in large muffin tins and add bolognaise sauce to these baskets, and serve with steamed greens on the side.
- Fish Boats – may need to be a little organised with shopping for this one. Get some boneless white fish or salmon from your local fishmonger and make up some fish parcels in the oven. Have a piece of baking paper on top of a piece of alfoil and add fish, julienne strips of carrot, green and red capsicum, shallots and slices of lemon and chopped parsley, optional chilli & ginger for the adults or more discerning tastes. Wrap sides up and seal at the top and bake in oven for approx. 12 mins until cooked through. Serve with sweet potato chips (thinly sliced strips of sweet potato, drizzled in olive oil and s&p and baked in oven) and fresh green salad or steamed greens.
- Meatless Monday – one pot wonder Minestrone Soup – onion, carrot, celery, kidney beans or chickpeas, tomatoes, stock, kale, small pasta, Italian parsley
- Meat and 3 Veg – “no thanks Mum” …. OK…..Meat and Vege Lightsabers with dipping sauce. Why is it, put food on a skewer or have a bowl of dipping sauce – and they are in!! Make meat and vegetable kebabs using beef or chicken, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, pineapple and grill on a hot plate or BBQ. Serve up a small bowl of homemade salsa or hommus or pesto or tahini paste on the side.
- Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lean Lamb Cutlets – grill some zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, field mushrooms and lemons cut in half on grill plate or BBQ. Grill lamb cutlets marinated in a seasoning mix of olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper and rosemary. Serve grilled vegetables on a bed of baby spinach, add halved grape tomatoes, squeeze of your grilled lemon and dollops of labne or Persian fetta. Serve a dollop of hommus with lamb cutlets.
- Pizza…. pizza – is usually the request for Thursday. This is a synch … spread some passata sauce on wholemeal pizza bases or wholemeal pita wraps and start your prep. Prep all ingredients on the board (lean ham or leftover roast meat, leftover roast pumpkin, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, herbs – parsley, basil, oregano, capsicum, shallots, olives, mozzarella cheese) and let your pizzeria crew get to work. When the pizza is out the oven – add a good handful or rocket or baby spinach to add freshness to your pizza. Set a challenge for how many different toppings that they can put on their pizza and award them a prize.
- Tex Mex – remember that bolognaise sauce in the freezer … out it comes. For those family members that struggle with leftovers, also serve up shredded chicken or beef (available at supermarkets) or some slow cooked beef or roast meat that you have as your protein number 2. Alternatively, refried kidney beans works as a great protein substitute for people who would like to go meatless. Your Tex Mex meal includes a platter of grated carrot, shredded lettuce, baby spinach, grated cheese, roasted or sautéed capsicum, guacamole, wholemeal burritos/enchiladas or if you have the time make your own flatbreads.
- Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner – while typically not a weekday dinner – roast chicken and veges is a great weekend dinner when you can pop the oven on at 5.00pm. Roast chicken in an oven bag and two trays of vegetables (sweet potato, potato, pumpkin, onion, cauliflower, drizzled with olive oil and s&p) and serve with steamed broccoli & beans. Tip: roast an extra chicken for school lunches the next few days.
- San Choy Bau – dinner is on the table in 10….. with this delicious, vibrant and tasty dinner creation. Sauté onion and lean pork mince together in large frypan, add san choy bau seasoning, grated ginger, soy sauce, chopped green beans, mushrooms, shallots and squeeze of lime juice. Arrange lettuce leaves (I use Little Gem green lettuce) on plate, fill with mince mixture, top with crushed nuts, mung bean shoots and wedge of lime. If little members of the house, baulk at lettuce on the plate …. serve with steamed rice and peas instead.