Well, it seems like you like to add the fish directly to the tank. I recomend a QT just because, but if you wanted to (and aren't too worried about your fish haveing diesases, as LM cichlids are often pretty hardy), you could put some in the QT (maybe 20-30g) and some in the main tank.
It would be pretty expensive to setup a QT if you didn't already have one, though. You would still have to do water changes anyway.
In my 10g QT, I added 2 albino cories, and 4 lemon tetras (now a total of 3 AC, 5 LT). The ammonia never rose over 0.1 because it is SO heavily planted. Lake Malawi Cichlids might eat plants, though. Not to mention the very expensive lighting.
Sounds like you were doing it fine. As long as you can handle the fish without the ammonia getting out of hand (and wipeing out your bio-load), and it not overstocked (well, just a tiny bit overstocked for LM AC lol), then sounds fine to me.