Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meal Planning & Macaroni Cheese

At the beginning of the year I started writing our meal plans down. Sounds basic, doesn't it? Prior to this Mr S would do the shopping and buy for meals. He'd always tell me what there was, but I didn't write it down either so we started being confused about what we were having for dinner that night.
So, the Meal Planning Book. I wrote a list of all the meals we liked to eat at the front of it, then on each page I'd write the week's worth of meals, including what Millie would eat for her meals.

Then I misplaced the book.

Then I found it and we started again.

Then I lost it again.

I started writing my meal plans on the shopping list. Then I'd forget to tear the list off the notepad, and I'd forget what notepad I'd used... you can see where this is going.

Eventually, I bought Nicole Avery's Planning With Kids book and went to her fantastically awesome website  and started planning our meals with more regularity. My sister then bought me her app as well and I suddenly had more ideas for dinners. We weren't eating the same ten meals every ten days.

After a few weeks of mixing Nicole's recipes in with my meal plans, I started looking at the giant wall of cookbooks. I LOVE cookbooks. I actually love all books, but cookbooks hold a special place in my heart. Hard covers, pictures, matt paper, beautiful pictures... I'm there. Baking from a cookbook. Oh yes. But... cooking out of cookbooks? Never really had.

I began to pick a cookbook from the giant wall every fortnight and armed with my Meal Planner printout, I would flick through with my Meal Planner printout and shopping list, and choose a few meals from the cookbooks mixed in with our old favourites.

This past fortnight has been brought to us by an awesome cookbook called The Family Dinner written by Laurie David.

I cooked Mac'N'Cheese Please from The Family Dinner a few weeks ago. And BY GOLLY it was amazing. Creamy, tasty and delicious. I know. Tasty AND delicious. You understand how much I was enjoying eating it. Several people asked me for the recipe, and short of taking a picture of the recipe, I thought I'd share it with you here.

I'll give it to you with my amendments, as I have a gene flaw that does not allow me to get twitchy with recipes and change things if I think it's either a) going to take too long, b) cost too much money for a single use ingredient or c) I have other things in the fridge that need to be used.

Mac'N'Cheese Please
from The Family Dinner by Laurie David.

Crunchy Topping:
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used herb and garlic breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

The Rest:
3 eggs
2 12oz cans evaporated milk (I used the 400g tins)
4 cups of any melting cheese (tasty in my house, see above for single use ingredients)
2 tsp dry mustard (I used squeezy American Mustard, again, my single use rule)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni, shells, or other small pasta (I bought a 500g pack of macaroni)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/2 cup grated cheese
My additions: I added 3 rashers of bacon and three big handfuls of spinach.

  1. Preheat oven to 180degrees.
  2. Mix topping ingredients together. Put on a baking tray and bake until golden and crisp, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix eggs, evaporated milk, cheese and mustard in a small bowl. Season and set aside.
  4. Cook macaroni until tender and drain. Set aside.
  5. Heat a heavy based pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, bacon and onions. Saute onions until soft and translucent.
  6. Add drained noodles to the onions, stir, then pour the egg mixture into the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and keep stirring until thoroughly combined and cheese has melted. Stir in the spinach. The cheese will take about 3 minutes to melt. You do not want the mixture to boil, as the mix will set stiffly, just keep the heat low. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and eat!
So good. Millie loved it and we ate it for dinner that night. There was also at least half the pot left, so that's in the freezer for Baby Time.

The only thing I found difficult about the recipes in this book is that there is no prep time specified, so I feel like it's the kind of recipe book that I really need to study and think hard about before I start cooking. I prefer to know what time I need to start cooking to make dinner for M at a Reasonable Hour.

How do you plan meals for your family? What's your favourite meal for everyone at your dinner table?

Linking up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.


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