Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s time to focus on what’s in store for the new year. Getting back to the swing of our normal busy routines can be a challenge for some families. I don’t know about you, but if I can find a way to get a head start on tackling my weekly projects ahead of time, I’m all for it. That said, I love to have a plan. One of the easiest projects I have is meal planning. And it’s because I’ve stuck to it. In the beginning, meal planning can be a challenge for some families. But if you are willing to try it for at least 6 months routinely, you’ll soon find that a year has passed and you’ll have one of the most difficult of challenges behind you and it will become a normal routine.
And I never have to feel more stressed that I don’t have a dinner plan when my family is hungry, the sun has set, and dinner is nowhere near ready to serve. Meal planning definitely helps me avoid that feeling. And planning for the entire month, helps me even more because I save some time throughout the month to accomplish other projects.
This year, I won’t be cooking without my new crock pot. Yes, I did say new. Last month, I took advantage of a great sale and purchased a 7-quart crock pot. I can fit a whole chicken and 4-6 whole potatoes in it without having to worry that I don’t have enough room. Plus, there have been numerous times where I’m using the crock pot and want to create another crock pot dish like my Homemade Crock Pot Greek Yogurt at the same time.
One of the ways I’m implementing our meal plan is by having a theme for the night. Weekly Dinner Themes are definitely a great way to create a menu and they make meal planning a whole lot easier.
This month, we’re creating some new savory slow cooked meals on Slow Cooker Mondays. Anything involving my slow cooker is a surefire entertaining winner.
We’re starting off the new year with a savory 5-Spice Beef slowly cooked and served over a fluffy bed of white rice.
- 2 pounds stew meat (less expensive on grocery budget)
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon chili sauce
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 scallions, chopped for garnish (optional)
- slivered almonds for garnish (optional)
- Rice (make enough to serve your family size)
- Coat crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a bowl, season meat with Chinese Five-Spice and place in crock pot.
- Scatter onion and garlic over the meat.
- Combine soy sauce, chili sauce, tomatoes, broth, and vinegar and pour over the meat.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or on LOW for 8 hours.
- Remove meat with a slotted spoon and serve over rice.
If desired, top with scallions and slivered almonds.