Now that all four of my children are away at college, and by away, I mean the closest one is three hours away and the furthest is 2000 miles away, the days of cooking for six are finished—at least on a regular basis. Not only did I cook for six, but my people demanded leftovers. The Mr. really loves leftovers, but at the start of our first full week of childless living, as I was making my meal plan for the week, we had this exchange:
“I’m looking forward to cooking for two. Less prep time, less cook time, less clean-up.”
“I am looking forward to not stuffing myself.”
“When there’s more food I feel compelled to go back for seconds and thirds.”
“Oh, I thought you loved having leftovers for lunch the next day.”
“I do, but you make enough for seconds, thirds, and leftovers.”
“Ever consider letting your stomach catch up with your head?
As he frowned, I realized this was not only going to be easier, but healthier for both of us.
My first week’s empty-nest meal plan looked like this:
- Monday: Sesame Chicken (recipe from Facebook video; it was delicious!)
- Tuesday: Lamb meatloaf (recipe follows)
- Wednesday: Leftovers
- Thursday: Take out (that was really easy)
- Friday: Meat Pie
Monday’s meal went well, but still resulted in leftovers, and I only used two chicken breasts! When you factor in the stir-fried veggies and brown rice, two plump breasts are more than you think!
Now to Tuesday: Lamb meatloaf. I made this up off the top of my head, and I didn’t actually partake in it for dinner because I was headed out for drinkies with a few other empty nesting moms. Nevertheless, I started with 1 lb. of ground lamb. For the mashed potatoes, I literally boiled one large russet potato. I have made beef meatloaf a million times, but now that the lamb naysayers have scrammed, I can make what I want.
So, Wednesday was leftovers night. A little leftover chicken and rice, a little meatloaf and mashers (one large russet makes a lot more mashed potatoes than I thought it would, and my husband loves mashed potatoes).
Thursday was take-out because I was sick all week with a nasty chest cold. On Friday I made a meat pie for two in a 9″ x 9″ square baking dish, as opposed to the 9″ x 13″ that feeds six and provides leftovers. We still had leftovers with the small one also, and that’s my meal plan for the weekend since the Mr. is out of town. Leftover fried meat pie with a couple eggs…ahhh.
(Note: I didn’t use ketchup in this meatloaf because lamb and ketchup just seemed wrong. If you substitute beef, add a bunch of ketchup.)
This recipe actually feeds four (1 lb.) so if you need it to feed six, add another ½ pound of meat and pump up all the other ingredients’ amounts. If you insist on cooking for one and detest leftovers, basically make a hamburger, not a loaf. Start with a ¼ pound of meat and go from there. Or start with a ½-lb and you will have just enough for a nice sandwich the next day. Also, I know my way around a kitchen, and rarely measure anything, so my amounts below are estimates for the most part, except for the main ingredients.
Lamb Meatloaf (for 2-4)
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- ½ large carrot, ½ med. zucchini, ¼ yellow onion, ½ red bell pepper; I cut these into 1-inch pieces, then throw them all together into my food processor and hit “pulse” several times until they were minced finely (see picture).
- Garlic, three cloves
- ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs mixed with about ¼ cup milk (should be thick, but still pourable, like a milkshake)
- 1 egg
- Worcestershire sauce (about four liberal shakes; more or less depending on how you like it.)
- Salt and pepper (maybe about ¼ – ½ tsp of each)
- Place the ground lamb in a large bowl. I use organic and I don’t know the fat ratio.
- Mince veggies (by hand or food processor as described above).
- Sauté veggies until they are very soft and glossy, and edges are starting to brown. I sauté on medium for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper while cooking.
- Add crushed garlic about 2 minutes before veggies are done cooking. Add veggies/garlic mixture to meat.
- Mix breadcrumbs and milk with a spoon and add to meat mixture.
- Crack an egg into the meat mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper. Don’t forget you (should have) seasoned the veggies while they were cooking.
- Mix meatloaf ingredients thoroughly; it should fit perfectly into a loaf-sized Pyrex dish or pan. Note: There is going to be plenty of oil in the dish when it’s done cooking. You can easily drain this off as the meatloaf will shrink away from the sides of the loaf pan. You can even lift the whole loaf out with a large spatula and put it on a serving plate after setting it on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
All photos by Lisa Lucke – All Rights Reserved