A few weeks ago, it was time for a weekly Winco visit and I was out of ideas. My left brain was tapped out and it was time for a new right-brained strategy. Though I share a number of these in my book, Eat In Not Out, I tried something new!

I grabbed the October issue of Cuisine at Home and picked my favorite dishes. This was easy task because the magazine was full of delicious looking dishes.  And no, Cuisine at Home is not paying me to write this blog post.

I selected the recipes, created my list, and headed for the market.

Here’s how my experiment unfolded.

Meal 1: Tex Mex Lasagna

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My iPhone photo does not do this dish justice. It was quite tasty and even got the seal of approval from my eight-year-old, Luke. Of course, I disguised the dish in a clever title close to his heart – “taco casserole.”

The dish consisted of tortilla strips, a saucy vegetable mixture (peppers, corn, onion), chicken, and cheese. I’d give this one a solid A- on the Neely scale.

Meal 2: Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

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I liked this recipe because it took an age-old Italian dish and slimmed it down a bit. The meatballs took a little time to make, but I thought the dish was tasty. There was enough for leftovers, too.

Neely family rating: B+

Meal 3: Italian-Style Pot Roast

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I actually liked this one because it was a slow-cooked meal that was easy to make. It also had a red wine sauce that imparted nice flavor.

However, when I served it, my spouse immediately implored that the dish reminded him of the unhealthy ones he grew up eating in the Midwest. Luke followed suit and suddenly the dish became a fatty concoction that no one wanted to eat. Oh well! If you strain the gravy as the recipe suggests, the only fats are those naturally found in the beef.

Neely family rating: C

Meal 4: Eggplant Rollatini

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When I made the spaghetti and meatballs (Meal #2), I doubled the amount of tomato sauce I made so I’d have enough leftover for this meal. Even with the shortcut, this dish took me a while to pull together.

I thought the dish was pretty good, but I’d make some adjustments if I tried it again. The cheese mixture called for nutmeg and lemon zest, and I didn’t like how these flavors paired with the red peppers in the sauce. I also used too much sauce (and that was my fault).

Neely family rating: B-

Dessert: Apple Crisp

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In one word, I would describe the apple crisp as scrumptious. Not only did I used locally grown honeycrisp apples, but the recipe doubles the amount of crisp. How can you go wrong with that?

It was a hit! (The Neely’s love their sweets.)

Neely family rating: A

Meal 5: Creamy Spinach Soup

Sorry no photo! I made this for dinner and the biggest fan was my son. I thought it was a bit bland, and so did Rob. This recipe consisted of half-and-half and broth, and I actually prefer this healthier, all broth recipe from how2heroes.

Neely family rating: B-

The Experiment

Though it didn’t require a lot of ingenuity to select the recipes and create a grocery list, the meals themselves took longer to make than ones I typically select for weekdays. Also, the dishes weren’t as light and healthy as my traditional style of cooking. By the end of the week, I felt like I had gained 5 pounds and was ready for a meal heavy with veggies!

That said, some of the recipes were keepers and I always enjoy my Cuisine at Home!

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