A lot of people are looking forward to getting their kids back to school and into a normal routine. But that routine can sometimes put a burden on the person/people responsible for making most of the meals in your house.

There are only three people (plus Cosmo, the dog) in my home, but life still gets pretty chaotic with class schedules, working nights and other commitments. My family tries to eat together at least one meal a week, usually on Sunday when everyone is typically home. And because everyone is around on Sundays, that day becomes our prep day for meals for the coming week.

Here are some of the “Sunday-prepared, enjoyed throughout the week” dishes my family likes to make:

Italian tomato sauce: Homemade sauce can’t be beat. It can be a meal on its own with pasta, or it can be the base for adding flavor to other dishes, like braised chicken or pork chops.

Chicken stock: It is easier to make than you think. Grab a fresh bird from the farmers’ market, add it to a pot of water with carrots, onions, celery and herbs, and in no time you will have a base for soup or other sauces later in the week.

Soup: You can turn your homemade chicken stock into a big pot of soup that can be frozen in individual portions for lunches. If you have any left-over proteins, add those to your soup to make it even heartier.

Stew: This is as simple as pulling together vegetables and meat with some stock. With the left over stew, place it in a baking pan, top it with mashed potatoes and cheese and you have a lazy shepherd’s pie.

lpc 010Lazy lasagne: Buy frozen cheese ravioli from the Italian Center Shop, layer it with grated cheese and spinach and bake. This easy peasy recipe is below.

You might be thinking – all of this prep takes time. But if you work together as a family and take an hour or two to prepare for the week, it will be a lot healthier for you and your wallet. And, it will be a whole lot tastier than that bucket of chicken or burger meal from a fast food restaurant. Consider those meals special treats, not a meal substitute.

Lazy Lasagna

My wife, Leanne, makes this dish quite often. It is a staple in our house, especially in the cooler months. Homemade tomato sauce is preferred, but there are some good jarred ones out there. The ravioli are cheese and we buy them at the Italian Center Shop in Edmonton. You can add chopped spinach, fresh or frozen, and you can add other vegetables, sausage or meat if you wish. Personally, I like it plain. You can also make this dish in foil containers and freeze it, and then pop it in the oven and bake from frozen.

2 pkgs   jumbo ravioli (1kg each) (uncooked)
6 cups    tomato sauce
2 cups    chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 cup   shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a 9X13 pan with olive oil. Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, then spread an even layer of frozen ravioli (no need to cook), top with spinach and ½ c cheese. Then cover with 2 cups of tomato sauce, then another layer of ravioli, layered evenly. Top with remaining tomato sauce and the remaining cheese, both spread evenly.

Place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or till golden brown and bubbly and heated through. Great leftovers and to take for lunch the next day!