I have been reading several posts on Facebook and in blogs about people struggling to get dinner on the table and eating out more than ever. For some it is returning to the work force, for others it is a busy time at work or with their children’s classes. One thing that has truly helped me is planning ahead. There are still a few nights where I look at everyone and ask, “What do you want for dinner?” but those nights are few and far between.
If you want to change the number of nights you eat out, or order in, there are a few things you can do to make things easier on yourself. If you take an hour or two on the weekend or a free evening, involve your children if you can, and prep some of the ingredients for your meals for the week you can get dinner on the table easier.
- Cut onions, peppers, celery, broccoli, etc… (non-delicate vegetables) for the next three or four days. Bag them up and use them in dinner dishes, salads for lunch or dinner. Out of season use frozen vegetables as you can portion them out easily as needed.
- When you buy your meat freeze it in meal size packages or 1-2 lbs. depending on what you need. Leave some whole but cut others into chunks or strips according to what your recipes need.
- Write your meal plan out with what each dish needs. Be realistic! Don’t plan a full fried chicken dinner on a night you have to work until 6 pm. Make it simple. Slow Cooker Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches or have breakfast for dinner.
- Make sure you have the ingredients for each meal accessible. If you need spaghetti sauce, tuna, beans and pasta make sure they are together on a shelf and easily accessible.
- Place the meat for the next 1-2 days in your refrigerator. You should always have at least one if not two meats thawing, if you are using meat, in your dishes. Look at your meal plan so you know exactly what you need for the next day or so.
- Use your slow cooker, grill and food processor to your advantage. Pull them out the night before so all your necessary items to make dinner are ready to use when you get home.
- HAVE FUN! Involve your family where you can and try to find what works best for you and your family. If it is eating out 1-2 nights a week and you are all good with it, it is okay.
So, I made this meal late. By late, I mean we were eating at 8:15-8:30 pm which is fairly typical for us depending on the night. I should have made the casserole early in the morning and let it sit in the refrigerator and just baked it when we got home. I was lazy and made it all at once thinking it wouldn’t take that long. I was wrong. It took a little over 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Well, despite being late and taking longer than I thought to make (I sometimes forget the time it takes to prepare the dish before baking or cooking it!) this was an over the moon hit! The pork was incredibly tender, the scalloped potatoes were yummy and everyone wanted seconds.
I served this with a green side salad and steamed broccoli.
Boneless Pork Chops over Scalloped Potatoes
- 2 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, thinly sliced with a mandoline
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 boneless pork chops (about 2 lbs.)
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups fat-free half and half
- 1 tablespoon Morton Nature’s Seasoning
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9 baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray.
- Layer potatoes in the bottom of the dish.
- In a skillet over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add pork chops and brown on each side about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove pork chops and lay on top of potatoes.
- Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the onion and allow the onion to soften about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle the onion-b with flour. Stir until a paste is made. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring.
- Slowly add half and half to pan. Stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken about 8-10 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened and coats the back of the spoon remove from heat and add Morton Nature’s Seasoning, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
- Pour mixture over entire dish. Gently shake casserole dish so that the sauce works its way in between all of the potatoes.
- Cover dish and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove cover from dish and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Test potatoes by inserting a fork into the center. There should be a bit of resistance but not too much. If your potatoes are sliced thinly enough the dish should be done. If it is not done return pan to oven and check every 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.