Meal Planning, Tacos turned Nachos, & Fine Motor Skills

One of my 2012 New Year’s resolutions is to start meal planning.  I’ve tried it for a week or two here and there but never really stuck to it.  Another of my New Year’s resolutions is to simplify.  So, putting the two resolutions together, I picked out 3 weeks worth of meals we like, added them onto my Google Calendar, and clicked auto repeat.  We’ll see how this goes, but the first week and a half has been great!  I figure I’ll change up the recipes every 3-4 months to better mesh with the current season as far as what’s fresh and local since I do most cooking from scratch.  

This past Thursday my Google Calendar deemed it was taco night.

We have tacos fairly often and normally I get out a bazillion bowls for all our different toppings; it’s quite the mess to clean up afterwards!  This time…**simplify!**…it occurred to me to try using our veggie + dip tray to hold all of our accouterments instead of individual bowls.  It worked great, and it allowed Lilah, my little kitchen helper, to get lots of fine motor practice in the process. 

It went something like this:

I chopped the lettuce.  Lilah transferred it from the cutting board into the colander.  Fine motor practice – check!

Next, I rinsed the lettuce and popped the colander into the salad spinner.  Lilah pressed the lever over and over to get the leaves dry.  Fine motor practice – check!

Then she transferred the lettuce from the spinner to 2 different compartments on the veggie + dip tray, because we REALLY like lettuce with our tacos.  Fine motor practice – check!

We had some leftover black beans and some leftover brown rice from meals earlier in the week, so I heated and mixed the two in one of the containers they were in already.  When it was heated, Lilah spooned it from its container into our veggie + dip tray.  Fine motor practice – check!

While she was helping me, I was making guacamole, browning the ground beef, and adding other things to the tray.  It really was a joint effort and she really WAS helping me.  I did have to take a little break though to grab a pic or two (or six!) while she was spooning the rice.

I just love her little red apron.  Luke has one, too, minus the bows.  And don’t you love her Spider Man PJ’s?  Of course they are Luke’s hand-me-downs.  She loves Spider Man.  She has no clue who he is other than to know he’s on those PJ’s, but she loves him just the same.  

OK, to get back to the tacos, Lilah and I filled up the tray’s compartments with rice, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese, and seasoned meat.  A quick phone call to DH let me know that he wasn’t going to be home at the time he had predicted, so the tomato, sour cream, and tortillas he was supposed to be picking up at the grocery store were not going to make it either. 🙁

Enter Plan B.  

I dumped a bag of tortilla chips into a big bowl, and told the kids we were having nachos instead!  We’ve never made nachos before.  Luke was skeptical, but I assured him it was just a taco in a bowl that you could eat with your fingers.  That helped!

I pulled out the plain yogurt from the refrigerator, as we think it makes a fine substitute for sour cream.  I filled up one of the dip portions of the tray with the plain yogurt, stuck a spoon in it for serving, and turned around to rinse out the emptied yogurt container in the sink.  When I turned back around, I found that my little kitchen helper had eaten about half of it already!  Where’s the camera when you really need it?  Oh, well! 🙂

To serve the nachos, I put several chips onto the kids’ plates and let each of them have a turn adding to their nachos what they wanted from the tray — using spoons or fingers as appropriate.  Fine motor practice — check!

Halfway through the meal, Luke said, “I loooooove my dinner, Mom!”  He cleaned his plate.  Lilah ate the majority of hers, too.  Nachos might have to find their way onto the meal plan in their own right.

So in summary:

  • I meal planned (yay!),
  • I mostly kept it simple (yay!),
  • there were a LOT fewer dishes to wash (big yay!),
  • Lilah got some kitchen experience and a lot of fine motor practice,
  • I got some help and someone to talk to while I prepped the meal,
  • both kids ate up their healthy dinners
    • a few organic tortilla chips, organic lettuce, organic black beans, pesticide-free brown rice, plain organic yogurt, homemade guacamole using organic avocado, local pasture-raised ground beef cooked with organic Mexican seasoning, and shredded Mexican cheese,
  • and who can be mad at DH for being a little late when your son announces he LOVES the dinner that you created only *because* he was late??? 

DH ended up making it home soon after we started eating, so he joined us and it ended up being a family meal after all.  Overall, it was what I call a good night! 🙂

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

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