Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sunday Planning and Preparation with Meal Suggestions

(Including a Planning List and 14 Meal Suggestions)

by Lois Breneman, © 1999, Revised 2005, Heart to Heart

As many of you already know, Sunday mornings can be quite stressful, especially for families with small children, however, there is help through simply planning and delegating! 
After our second child was born, I immediately noticed that it was a lot more hectic in our home as we prepared to go to Sunday school and church.  I had to dress our two year old, nurse the baby, dress the baby, get dressed myself, feed us all breakfast, put dinner in the oven, get the diaper bag packed, and nurse the baby on the way to church (before seat belt restrictions like today).  It can be overwhelming!  You've been there, haven't you? 
Something had to change, so in a calm and quiet moment, I let my husband know that it was just too much for me to handle on a Sunday morning.  I let him know where I could use some help and asked him what he would like to do to help.  He was very willing to help and offered to be in charge of getting our two year old daughter dressed, making the bed, as well as making a nice breakfast for the family.  That helped immensely and he’s been making breakfast on Sunday mornings for more than 31 years now, even for just the two of us, now that the children are all living on their own, and I let him know how much I still appreciate his help.  When we have company, he's the Sunday morning chef!   What a treat that is for me, and he seems to enjoy it as well!

by Lois Breneman, © 1999, Revised 2005, Heart to Heart


In order to make Sunday mornings even more stress-free, I tried to think of additional short cuts to simplify our lives - anything that could be done ahead of time.  Here is a list of things we did the day before that may help your family to have more harmonious Sunday mornings, if you're not already doing them.  

*Pack diaper bag.  (Keep a list of necessary items on an index card in the pocket of the bag.  This makes packing the bag each time quick and easy).

*Help children memorize any scripture verses for Sunday school class during the week.

*Plan everybody's clothes for Sunday the day before.  Have them clean, pressed and hanging out ready to put on, down to underwear, shoes, socks, jewelry, etc. 

*Have older children help plan with you the day before. 

*Polish shoes, if needed.

*Put items by the door as soon as possible that you need to take along, such as Bible, notebook, purse, diaper bag. 

*Stick a Post-It note by the door, listing additional last minute reminders, such as "bottle of milk," and "Put dinner in oven."  

*Plan a meal to bake in the oven while you are in church, adjusting the temperature to 3 - 4 hours.  A 250-275 degree temperature works for most dishes.  Try this out on weekdays first.

*Plan dishes you can prepare ahead of time and stick in the oven before you leave the house.  


by Lois Breneman, © 1999, Revised 2005, Heart to Heart


Today I am listing fourteen different Sunday dinner ideas, that will hopefully make your Sundays less stressful.   These meals can be prepared ahead of time and put into the oven to bake while you and your family are in Sunday school and church.  For many that is about four hours, including travel time, and I have found that an oven temperature of 250 - 275 degrees works well for most meals during that span of time.  You can adjust the temperature for recipes you already use to make them compatible for baking the appropriate amount of time for you.  Of course, if you set your oven timer, that works as well.  If you have a small oven or a toaster oven, either of those will use less electricity and will not heat up your kitchen as much, which is certainly something to consider during warm weather.  Also if you want a free afternoon during the week to spend with your children or to work on a project, without an interruption to prepare dinner, put dinner in the oven 4 hours early!   Make this tip work for you any day of the week!  

Dinners to Bake at 250 to 275 degrees for 4 Hours - More or Less


(I would advise that you test these times and temperatures during the week first, while at home.)


1) Beef Chuck (Choice) Western Style Boneless Ribs - Simply put meat in a baking dish with about 1/2 cup water.  Add scrubbed baking potatoes and carrots for a complete meal.  Sprinkle with salt and garlic pepper.  The water will make a broth that you can thicken at the end of the four hours, if you'd like.   Cover with a lid or foil.  *For a change, using the meal idea above, reduce the water to 2 Tbsp., omit salt and garlic pepper, and simply add barbecue sauce on top of the meat.

2) Place boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs or Breasts in a baking dish sprayed with Pam.  Sprinkle Italian bread crumbs over chicken, dot with a few pats of butter and cover pan.  You can bake potatoes in the same pan.  Serve with a frozen green vegetable and ice cream.

3) Place Pork Chops in a baking dish sprayed with Pam.  Put an onion slice, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce or catsup on each pork chop.  Add 1/4 cup water to the dish to prevent drying out.   Scrub baking potatoes, dry, rub with butter, place in baking dish and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake covered.  Cook a frozen vegetable such as corn, green beans or peas when you arrive home from church.  Serve chilled applesauce or a canned fruit with the meal.

A tip for frozen casseroles:
I have found that most thawed casseroles, meatloaves and meats will be done about right when baked in the oven for 4 hours at 275 degrees.  You might want to experiment with the time and temperature during the week, using some of your favorite dishes.   It's better to underbake than overbake.   Here are more Sunday dinner ideas.

4) Susan's Turketti

(This colorful and tasty recipe from my high school home economics class has been a favorite of our family's over the years.  It has been made by the dishpan-full many times to freeze for future use.)

Cook 1/4 cup 2" spaghetti pieces until tender.  Drain, rinse with water and drain again.  Add the following to the cooked spaghetti:

1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked, cubed turkey             
1/4 cup minced pimiento                              
1/4 cup minced green pepper                       
1 can cream of mushroom soup                     
1/2 cup turkey broth
1/8 tsp. celery salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 grated small onion
1 cup grated natural cheddar cheese (4 oz.)

Toss ingredients lightly and pour into a casserole dish.  Sprinkle an additional 1/2 cup of grated cheese over the top.  This is an excellent casserole to make in large quantity in a dishpan to freeze.  Then on a Sunday morning take a casserole out of the freezer and bake it in a preheated 250 - 275 degree oven for about 4 hours, covered.  (Cooked brown rice could be substituted for a change or in case of wheat allergies.)

5) Supreme Beef Casserole
3 qt. casserole, lightly greased               
1 lb. ground chuck                                    
1 tsp. shortening                                       
1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes                           
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce                       
2 tsp. salt                                                    
2 tsp. sugar
|2 garlic cloves chopped
1 (5 oz.) pkg. egg noodles
1 cup sour cream
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
6 green onions, chopped with tops
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Melt shortening in skillet; brown beef, drain off fat.  Stir meat into tomatoes, sauce, salt, sugar and garlic.  Simmer 5 -10 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the noodles, drain well and with a fork blend in the sour cream, cream cheese and onions.  In the greased casserole pour a small amount of the meat mixture, cover with layer of noodles and grated cheese; repeat layers, ending with meat sauce.  Normally you would bake at 350 degree for 33 minutes. But make lots ahead to freeze (I used to use a dishpan to mix it).  Then on a Sunday morning take a casserole out of the freezer and bake in a preheated 250 - 275 degree oven for about 4 hours, covered.  Or you could use the microwave when you get home from church.

6) Easy Barbecued Chicken

(This recipe can be put together the day before, refrigerated and baked on Sunday.)
1  3 to 3 1/2-lb. ready-to-cook frying chicken (or boneless, skinless breasts)
1 medium. onion
1 cup catsup                                               
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce                  
1/2 Tbsp prepared mustard                       
1 cup. water                                                
1/2 cup celery
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Brown onion in 2 Tbsp. oil in saucepan; add remaining sauce ingredients (all but the chicken).  Simmer 29 minutes.  Pour sauce over chicken in small shallow roasting pan. Bake, covered, in a 275 degree oven 3-4 hours.  Yield: 6 servings.

7) Easy Pork Chop Dinner

(This is quick enough to assemble on Sunday morning, but if you want to speed up the process for Sunday morning, peel the potatoes and store, covered with water in the refrigerator, because potatoes turn brown if peeled ahead of time.)

6 to 8 pork chops                                   
6 to 8 potatoes, sliced                           
6 to 8 carrots, sliced                              
1 onion, sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Place browned pork chops in roaster or covered casserole dish.  Spread potatoes, carrots and onion slices over pork chops.   Mix soup with enough milk to thin just a bit; pour over chops. Cover and cook for 4 hours at 275 degrees.   Yield: 6 servings. 
Note: Chicken or cut up round steaks could be substituted for the pork chops.  

8) Company Chicken

8 chicken breasts, skinned                      
8 slices bacon, regular sliced                   
1 can undiluted mushroom soup
1 cup pint sour cream
1 (4-oz.) pkg. chipped beef

Arrange chicken breasts in a large baking dish.  Lay a strip of bacon on each piece with chipped beef arranged on top. Mix soup and sour cream and pour over all.  That's it!  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, bake 3 hours at 275 degrees - or lower the temperature and bake for 4 hours.  Wrap scrubbed potatoes in foil a long strip of foil to bake at the same time.  Cook a vegetable just before you are ready to serve dinner.

9) 4 to 5 Hour Stew
1 lge. can tomato juice                             
2 cups tomato sauce                               
4 cups water                                             
4 lb. low fat meat (of your choice)           
2 medium onions chopped                      
1 cups celery chopped                             
3 cups diced carrots
5 cups diced potatoes   
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. tapioca    
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
pepper to taste

Put meat, vegetables and seasonings in Dutch oven (or large baking pot with a lid).  Add tomato juice, tomato sauce and water. Stir well.  Bake at 250° for 5 hours.  (275 degrees for 4 hours will also work.

10) Slow Cooker Roast Turkey Breast
11) Slow Cooker Chicken
12) Slow Cooker Roast Beef


(My favorite slow cooker recipes!  Quick, easy, versatile and delicious!  It melts in your mouth!)

Put a whole chicken, turkey breast, beef or pork roast into a Crock-Pot.  Mix one packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix with one 10 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup.  Spread over the top of the meat.  If the slow cooker is turned on just before you go to bed on Saturday night, you can let it cook on LOW until you get up on Sunday.  Then, so it doesn’t cook too long, pull the plug while you get ready for church, and plug it in again before you leave.  Just don't forget!  Make a note for yourself.         

Notes:  A turkey breast is more economical and less work to bone later than a whole chicken, if you get the turkey breast for .89 -.99 / pound.    Stock your freezer when you find turkey breasts for that price.

You can use a completely frozen turkey or beef roast in your slow cooker and cook it on High for the first two hours, and Low the remainder of the time.  It will be ready for Sunday dinner if you start it before you go to bed on Saturday night.  Sometimes I put quartered potatoes, carrots and celery on the bottom of the slow cooker, before adding the meat and soup mixture.  Vegetables do need to be on the bottom to get done, however.  Potatoes can be washed and prepared the day before and kept covered with water in the fridge to prevent browning.  Celery and carrots keep fine refrigerated in a bag.

Put your Microwave to work for cooking frozen vegetables.  Read the instructions on the bag.  I use a glass cooking dish and cover it with a lid or salad plate.

13) Leftover beef or turkey is great for a delicious Homemade Vegetable Soup - another idea for Sunday dinner.  Make muffins the day before.

14) Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Canned Tomato Soup work well for days when you weren't able to plan ahead.   Be flexible!   

What are your Sundays like?  Let me know if these ideas are helpful.