Thursday, November 12, 2009

Menu Planning, Meal Sharing and Meaty Lasagna Stoup

I've shared with you before that I am blessed to have the opportunity to work from home caring for my friend, Sarah's two precious little ones while she teaches first grade in our school district. When school resumed this fall, both of our households endured many major adjustments. For us, this marked the first year all four of our children would be in school all day. That probably doesn't sound like an earth shattering adjustment, but when you throw in homework, piano lessons, soccer, school cheer, competition cheer, youth group and daily responsibilities at home, I was struggling to keep our household afloat. For Mike and Sarah; she was returning to teaching after three long months of bed rest and six months of maternity leave with the birth of their second child. She is also continuing her education by pursuing her Masters Degree. Balancing a full time career, continuing education, family and household responsibilities were wearing on Sarah too. Several times during the first couple of weeks of school, we shared with one another our "leftovers" from a previous meal to help each other out on particularly busy nights. This worked so well that we decided to create a meal sharing schedule.

Here's how we've worked it out:

1.) We plan our menus two weeks at a time.
2.) We create our menus separately but communicate our ideas for the four meals that we will be sharing with one another.
3.) I am scheduled for Monday and Wednesday nights' dinners and Sarah is scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday. For our family, Friday is typically left over night and our weekend meals are planned according to whatever commitments we have.

I can't share with you how much of an INCREDIBLE blessing this has been for my family. On the two busiest nights of the week, when we're literally running in six different directions, I can relax knowing that there is a home cooked dinner waiting at home for us because Sarah brought it to me that morning when she dropped the kids off for the day. All I do is warm it up for the family and everyone eats according to their schedule for the evening. Whew-what a relief for me! On the nights that I send dinner to Sarah's, it offers her more valuable time to spend enjoying her kiddos without worrying about dinner preparations etc.  :)

We'll be sharing more tips and meal sharing ideas soon and I hope to begin listing our menus on the sidebar of my blog to share with you too. You can also check out the wonderful meal ideas that she has been sharing with us over at her blog;

This meal that I'm sharing with you today was a huge success for both families and made a large quantity of yummy goodness. This is basically lasagna in thick soup form. The noodles are broken up into the soup and they thicken the soup quite nicely. I loved that there were fresh veggies thrown into this too-always a great way to sneak nutrition into the kids' diet without them knowing. :) What's also wonderful about this recipe is that it's a Rachel Ray 30 minute meal, so you know it comes together quickly yet is full of wonderful flavors.

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Lasagna Stoup

2 tablespoons EVOO
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
One 28-ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes
1 lb. lasagna noodles, broken into jagged pieces
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to pass around the table

1. In a soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 4  minutes. Stir in the onion, carrots and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water, the chicken broth and tomatoes; cover and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.

2. Serve the stoup in bowls and dollop with the ricotta. Pass the parmigiano-reggiano at the table.

Source: Everyday with Rachel Ray-March 2009


cookies and cups said...

awesome you guys are such a great support system for each other and that stoup looks great! Love Rachael Ray!

Coleen's Recipes said...

Good friends and neighbors are a real blessing in life. Looks like you guys have got it figured out.

Ingrid said...

That's wonderful you are close enough to this family to swap.

Your stoup sounds good and a fun change of pace.

Donna-FFW said...

What a delicious sounding stoup. I am a Rachael Ray fan also.She has some fantastic weeknight type meals.

Coleen's Recipes said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your new header!!!

david said...

menu planning has really been helping me and my family during these tough times. THanks!

CaSaundraLeigh said...

Sounds like a great system you guys are so blessed to have!!!

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic system! I need to try that one out.

The stoup looks really's going on my menu plan!

;) amy

kanishk said...

Looks like you guys have got it figured out.

Work from home India

Cyprillo said...

Lovely! i just love it!

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