Back in August, my close friend Maureen Slaughter (a mom to two boys) told us about how she had challenged herself not to repeat a dinner all summer long. Today, she gives us an update about how it all turned out.
Our summer of "No Repeat Dinners" came to an end last month. I found it to be a very rewarding challenge. Originally, my family was not crazy about the idea, but it was actually enjoyable to plan meals together, try new things and get out of our dinner rut. And, most importantly, my children lived through having their beloved chicken parmesan only once all summer. They saved it for the last week of the summer, and they savored every bite.
We tried at least one new dinner recipe each week, which revealed some new meals to add to our dinner rotation. Tilapia with lemon, turkey meatball sandwiches, and parmesan crusted pork chops were all successes! However, we had some failures along the way – food experiments that we can cross of the list. I try to convince myself that these failures give us a greater appreciation for the more successful meals.
I'm pleased that some of our favorite meals were very simple to make including roast chicken, grilled pork chops and cheese omelets. And several can be made in big batches and frozen for a future meal like shredded roast beef, chicken tacos and pulled pork BBQ.
The big benefit for me is that I now have a master list of our favorite meals from the summer hanging on the fridge. I included it for this article. All of our dinners are served with fresh fruit and spinach & romaine salad (except for eggs – I can’t eat salad with eggs). Within each category, meals are ordered with our favorites at the top. Just having the list makes meal planning for the week so much easier! I just pick one thing from seven different categories and my meal planning for the week is complete.
- Roast chicken with garlic mashed potatoes
- Fried boneless chicken breasts
- Breaded chicken with whipped potatoes
- Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken and pasta
- Grilled BBQ Chicken
- Garlic pork chops with linguini
- Grilled chops (with crazy janes) and homemade macaroni & cheese
- Parmesan crusted pork chops
- Pork tenderloin in crock pot with carrots and celery (GWYM recipe)
- Pulled Pork BBQ with parmesan roasted potatoes
- Hamburgers with homemade French fries and corn on the cob
- Kabobs with sirloin steak, onions, red peppers, potatoes
- Steak on grill with baked potato
- Roast Beef with onions
- Shredded Roast Beef on rolls with provolone under broiler
- Meatloaf with baked potato
- Salmon baked in foil
- Tilapia with lemon with roasted gold potatoes
- Shrimp cocktail
Egg & Sandwiches
- Cheese Omlet with whole wheat toast
- Grilled cheese with tomato soup
- Deli Stromboli (with onions and red peppers in mine)
- Hot ham sandwiches
Mexican with Beef
- Loaded Tostadas with guacamole
- Ground Beef hard shell tacos
- Mexican Lasagna
- Shredded Beef soft shell tacos
- Black Bean Chili (with optional ground turkey or beef)
Mexican with Chicken or Pork
- Chicken Quesadillas with diced onion, red pepper
- Crock-pot Chicken Tacos
- White Chicken Chili with cheese quesadillas
- Pulled Pork Tacos
- Chicken Parmesan with whole wheat spaghetti
- Stuffed shells
- Build your own pizza
- Penne pasta with meatballs
- Turkey Meatball Sandwich
Editor's Note: Do any of these meals intrigue you? Let us know and we'll ask (force) Maureen to share the recipe with us for a future "Weeknight Dinner!"
Maureen Slaughter is a full-time mom and part-time swim instructor with two growing boys. Her favorite foods are chocolate chip cookies and chicken parmesan. She started making dinner for her parents when she was 13, and she is always on the lookout for new simple dinners for her own family to enjoy.