The unexpected complications of dinner in married life

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By: Lydia Sheaks
lsheaks@elkharttruth.com

When my husband and I got married last year, we expected our lives would change a little bit. But never did we think our biggest struggle would be figuring out what to make for dinner.

We disagree on most foods but agree on one thing: eating out every night, or even most nights, gets old fast. Plus, ain’t nobody got money for that.

After just a year of marriage, I don’t feel qualified to give marriage advice. I have so much more to learn. But I can tell you how we’ve solved the dinner problem.

Have a plan

Few things are worse than getting home from work, starving, and facing an empty, dark kitchen.

When that happens, I know we’re doomed for the Subway line (our default when dinner’s not done).

So we actually make a menu plan every weekend of what we will eat the following week.

It seems dorky, but it works.

We pick out five or six meals from our repertoire, assign them to days of the week, and make sure all the ingredients are actually in the house. (Not having the right ingredients will also send us to Subway.)

Then the night before, we prep ingredients. This includes defrosting meat, chopping veggies, even putting together the whole dish in a slow cooker or baking pan in advance.

Once you find stuff you like to eat and you’ve made those meals a few times, the prep work is simple and fast. Just five minutes of extra work the night before can save you from the drive-thru the next day.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Make stuff you actually want to eat

This was hard for us because I like everything and my husband likes…chicken.

He’s expanded his palate a lot this past year — mostly by force and/or cajoling.

And just like kids who are picky eaters, once he tries a new food he (usually) likes it.

It’s no secret that I’m in love with my slow cooker, and we use it to make chili, potato soup, pot roast, pulled pork sandwiches, even honey sesame chicken.

My husband is equally in love with his grill and we use that for chicken, steak, vegetables and hamburgers.

If you need help finding recipes I suggest Pinterest, the online foodie mecca. Mommy blogs are also a good source.

I also use cookbooks. Two of my favorites are More With Less, which contains many of my childhood favorites and the classic Betty Crocker.

Here’s a recipe we recently discovered that we love: 

Chicken Quesadillas for Two
Original recipe from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, diced
  • Packet fajita seasoning, or your own spices
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 medium-sized tortillas
  • Shredded cheese, any kind

Directions

  1. Turn broiler on high. Mix the fajita seasoning or spices with the diced chicken pieces, then spread the chicken on a baking sheet.
  2. Cook chicken under broiler for 3-5 minutes or until done.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the green bell peppers, red bell peppers, onion, and chicken. Cook and stir until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Layer half of each tortilla with the chicken and vegetable mixture, then sprinkle with the cheese. Fold the tortillas in half and place onto a baking sheet.
  6. Bake quesadillas in the preheated oven until the cheeses have melted, about 10 minutes.
Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks. Read more from her blog, Pretty the World, at elkharttruth.com

 

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