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Published: Sunday, April 6, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The meal-planning machine has kicked into high gear

My hands are calcifying into plastic claws around overpriced coffee. My face is turning yellow. But I still feel awesome — awesome opossum, like I’m dipped in chocolate frostin’. I’m part of a team and we’re living our dream.

OK, I may have watched “The Lego Movie” one too many times and listened to the title song on repeat for 48 hours straight, but it doesn’t matter. The awesomeness has rubbed off.

Will Ferrell and his scary glue-spewing Taco Tuesdays have inspired me. After nine years of parenthood, meal planning has finally clicked into place.

Mix in a little Herbert Hoover propaganda from World War I, and I’m ready to cook.

Here’s how it goes: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wheatless Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays, Fish on Fridays, Spaghetti Saturdays and Sunday Chicken Dinners.

That’s easy to remember, right? I don’t even need a manual.

Meatless Mondays are a no-brainer. We alternate between cheese pizza with a salad and “Greens, Beans and Things,” which is the easiest vegetarian meal ever.

You saute spinach, chard or kale with a little olive oil and garlic, add a can of beans, and then serve it over rice or quinoa.

“Things” like salsa, cheese, sour cream and avocado jazz up the meal. Even Wyldstyle would be impressed.

On Tuesdays, I bring out my slow cooker. Taco filling cooks all day while I drive the mom-taxi. (My invisible jet was destroyed, dang it.)

Wheatless Wednesdays are our meat and potatoes night. Sometimes I’ll try out a new recipe. Other times I’ll make a family favorite like chili or a casserole. Now that the weather is warming up, Wednesdays could also be the night we fire up the grill.

But wait, it gets even simpler: Throwback Thursdays are for eating leftovers. That saves money by keeping us away from typical chain restaurants (our favorites, like everyone else). Thursdays also clear out the fridge.

Then, if I go grocery shopping on Fridays, the logistics are perfect. Fresh fish on Fridays and everyone is happy. Well, actually … when I say “everyone” I don’t mean my kids. They keep campaigning for “Freedom Fridays” because they don’t like fish.

Spaghetti on Saturdays and roast chicken on Sundays mean, theoretically, we are always ready to invite friends over for dinner on the weekend. The tricky part would be cleaning up my house for company. There are Legos everywhere.

So see, Lord Business? Go ahead and Kragle my dinners. Taco Tuesdays have inspired me like a cat poster. My kids know what to expect, and I have a clue about what to cook. I can even go grocery shopping without a list.

Bring on the conformity. Every night is special — just like all the rest.

Jennifer Bardsley blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

Story tags » ParentingCooking

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