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7 More Days, 7 More Dinners

I have this problem at my house. Perhaps you have it, too. It seems no matter how many meals I have prepared in my 15 years of marriage and 14 years of motherhood, the humans in my home keep wanting another one, and another, and another. It's like they need food to survive or something. Go figure!

Just like you, I have days, and even weeks, when I am just SO VERY TIRED OF COOKING. I am sucked dry of dinner ideas, and I long for the halcyon days - before my "food awakening" - when we would just order a couple pizzas for delivery and call it good.

These days I find I can pull together something tasty and delicious, even when I'm initially not really feeling the kitchen muse working for me. All it takes to get me moving is a CLEAR PLAN, and so that's what I'm offering my readers again this week... seven yummy dinner ideas that aren't too complicated or time-consuming, though they might require a grocery stop for some specific ingredients. If you missed the first series of dinner menus I provided earlier this year, you can find those here. But now, for Round 2...

Day 1: Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken - I just discovered this one over the weekend and it saved the day for our Saturday post-soccer match luncheon, and then again for lunch today. The first time I used chicken breasts, and today I used thighs. Feel free to experiment with legs and wings - the taste will be amazing regardless! I'm especially excited about this recipe because mustard (the condiment, the greens, the dried spice...all of it) has been one of the trigger foods I haven't been able to eat in almost a decade due to all the sensitivities I developed when my gut was such a hot mess. The fact that I was able to enjoy it twice in a handful of days without any intestinal discomfort is a huge win and such an encouragement to me! And also, it's such an easy recipe!

Day 2: Whole 30 Paleo Meatloaf - As a kid I was absolutely petrified of meatloaf! It was one of those meals that would make me sink down in my chair and slide under the table during dinner, hoping to disappear from the kitchen without being noticed and without eating that mysterious loaf of meat. Decades later, the thought of meatloaf sounded strangely appealing and nostalgic, and this recipe was a great reintroduction to this staple entree. Save yourself a lot of time and effort by skipping the homemade ketchup and simply purchase Primal Kitchen ketchup instead. You can find it in most grocery stores now. The homemade version was tasty, but I couldn't get the dates to chop up finely at all, which made for sweet chunky little tidbits in my meatloaf. Not awful, just a little weird, if you ask me.

Day 3: Oven-Braised Mexican Beef - Who doesn't love a Mexican-inspired dish, right? If you receive my bi-weekly newsletter, you've already seen this recipe, but maybe a second look will encourage you to give it a try. I used beef stew meat for mine, but next time I'm curious to try short ribs or a beef brisket, as those are the cuts of meat that sit in my freezer until the bitter end due to my inability to think of a culinary use other than barbecue. I skipped the fish sauce called for in this recipe, so don't panic if you don't have it on hand. It's only 1/2 teaspoon anyway. Top with all your favorite things, or just enjoy it as is. You won't be disappointed!

Day 4: AIP Baked Honey Ginger Pork Ribs - Oooh, I just made these last week for the whole family, and my Dad was like, "Oh my, can I have another rack of those?!" They are so simple to prepare and so delicious, and the best thing is that they are sweetened only with applesauce and honey. No worries about MSG, high fructose corn syrup, or any other sketchy ingredients that you'll typically find in restaurants or regular bottled sauces at the grocery store. We usually serve ours with roasted potatoes, coleslaw, and green beans, but switch it up with the side dishes however you'd like!

Day 5: Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili with Sweet Potato - I'm sure there are a million variations of this meal online, but this is one I've used over and over with great success. I almost always make a special trip to Wegmans or our local food co-op to purchase the white sweet potatoes, which can be hard to find in your average grocery store. Regular sweet potatoes will work; just be prepared for a different look - more orange than white. Also, I highly recommend using homemade bone broth for optimal flavor and nutrition. If you don't know how to make it, ask me for a tutorial or check out this recipe that I've been using for years. (Pro tip: get the chicken feet for the most amazing broth!)

Day 6: Gluten-Free Italian Meatballs - Many years ago, I discovered that all three of my kids loved this Italian dish, and being gluten-free, it was a lifesaver in those days that my boys and I especially struggled with gluten. Originally, I would make the sauce from scratch, exactly as listed in the recipe. Now that the kids are older and our schedules much more complicated, I settle for Rao's jarred tomato and basil sauce instead, and no one complains. I'm really not a fan of GF pasta, and would rather use spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash as my base, but my kids are happy enough with one of the gluten-free brands, usually the ones made only with chickpeas or lentils. Now that I have a grain mill, there's a chance I'll make my own pasta one day, but I'm not quite there yet! Important tip - it is much easier (and less messy) to bake the meatballs at 350 for about 30-35 minutes than fry them in a pan, but it's totally up to you which method you use.

Day 7: Tender and Juicy Pork Loin Roast - Full disclosure...I haven't actually made this one yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be a winner. The pork is thawing in my fridge as I type this, and I'm planning to cook it up later this week. I'm not sure I'll follow the vegetable section exactly. Some of us love Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, but others not so much. So I might offer an alternative like baby red potatoes and green beans. We'll see! In any case, it will fill up our family of 6 (now that my dad is living with us for a while). And with any luck, we might even have some for leftovers.

I hope something here has sparked your creativity and given you some inspiration for upcoming meals at your house. Even if you don't consider yourself to be much of a cook, really it's just a matter of reading a recipe and following directions. Grammar school stuff! You can do it!

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