A few years ago, my family took a vacation to Mexico with all the parents, kids, and grandkids in tow. Since then, when you asked my two-year-old niece where she wanted to have dinner, instead of saying "Chick-Fil-A" or "pizza", she'd say "MEXICO!" While her request is rarely (ok, never) indulged, the adults in the crew do look at each other longingly while thinking, "Wouldn't that be nice?"
My husband pulled a "Mexico" on me this morning. We're sealing our deck, so grilling is out of the question for a few days. I asked him what he wanted to eat, offering things I knew we had in the freezer: soup, meatloaf, salmon, and hamburgers. His response? "Can you make lasagna?"
To me, a working wife prepping diner on a weeknight after a day at the office, making lasagna feels like I may as well be trying to book last minute flights to Mexico. Doesn't it require lots of steps? And at least three, maybe four, dishes?
He offered to pick up the frozen variety, but I hate looking at the ingredient lists on those boxes, so I pulled it together and started looking at recipes. Even if I wanted to avoid the fun shortcuts (hello, cheese ravioli!), I realized that lasagna is pretty simple: noodles, sauce, ricotta, meat (or not), and shredded cheese. I could make it as complicated (homemade sauce) or healthy (add extra veggies) as I wanted. Plus I could make a huge casserole dish or, even better, two smaller ones, so I could freeze a portion for another weeknight when Italy came a' calling.
I decided on Fresh Vegetable Lasagna in an effort to a) find my go-to homemade pasta sauce recipe and b) add more vegetables into our diet. I love one-dish dinners because then I don't end up making a side vegetable and a grain, but I often resort to less-than-stellar choices, health-wise, so this one seemed perfect.
And it was! Fresh veggies, a sauce you can twist to your tastes (we like it spicy, so crushed red pepper was certainly added), and one happy couple enjoying a hearty meal on a weeknight. Plus, I've got leftovers for tomorrow's lunch and more in the freezer.
Planning meals for a family of two isn't always easy, but it doesn't have to be hard. Set sail for Italy tonight! Or, if you're able, head to Mexico instead.