When I meal plan, things go easier. When I’m on the ball and plan out meals in advance AND purchase the items and sometimes even assign which meal goes to which meal.. things run smoothly.. It goes even better if I plan out lunches, but thats a bit over the top for me right now.
There’s an initial time investment, but it saves a lot of daily anxiety/stress that I seem to get from trying to figure out whats for dinner. My family is no help, by the way… Joel simply does not care, he just wants a bowl of food.. he’ll eat nearly anything, but will make underhanded comments if it contains beef other than ground, and he doesnt like seafood, doesn’t like ground turkey/chicken. I’ve learned to not care, because sometimes we eat things he doesn’t like, and he doesn’t make a big fuss. Laurel on the other hand, DOES make a big fuss, Alice too. Their pickyness can not even be explained here, because it is too extensive and seems to vary by day or by what quality of sleep they’ve been getting, or by what freaking phase the moon is, WHO THE CRAP KNOWS?
Anyway, sometimes I feel culinarily inspired, and I have soo many meal Ideas that I cant cram them into one week. Recently that has NOT been the case, and not even sitting down infront of food network with a note pad has helped. (okay, I admit it, I didn’t try that this week, but I have in the past and it usually works)
This morning I sat down and I wrote down 7 categories, because there are 7 days in a week.
Our current categories are as such:
1. Soup with Bread or Sandwich with Salad (lettuce based or other ;such as macaroni) Depending on Season, I imagine.
2. Make your own burrito (one of the only meals my whole family will eat without complaint)
3. Casserole or Crockpot meal (the idea being that I could prep it early in the day and have some free time around dinner hour which tends to be the climax of my day time stress)
4. Kid’s Choice (This will almost always contain hot dogs, hamburgers, or macaroni and cheese I’m sure)
5. Adventurous Eating day. (this means trying a new food, or trying a new recipe or cooking technique… hopefully this will keep me growing as a cook and keep the kids aware that we try new things regularly)
6. Convenience food (This could be picking up some burgers in a drive through, frozen food from the grocery store, ordering pizza, or if I’m really good and wholesome maybe it’ll be a prefrozen meal from my own freezer that I made on one of my casserole days.)
7. Eat out or Breakfast for Dinner. (depending on budget, most likely)
Next I took into consideration that I try to vary what sort of things we eat. We mainly live off frozen chicken breast tenderloins and ground beef. .. oh and hot dogs. .. but when I am conscious of our intake I like to to be something like this:
Being unsure what to do with this data after having compiled it I wrote it on little papers. I drew stars on the back of the numbered list, and hearts on the back of the protein list.
I then had Laurel pick up pairs, one heart and one star.
Things like “kids choice” and “eat out” didn’t really need proteins pre chosen, so when I realized that I took them out of the pile.
We got the following:
Chicken Sandwich. (we’ll probably do Korean BBQ chicken sandwiches with some sort of veg salad)
Fish Adventure. (fish in our house IS an adventure. I’m a salmon lover, but maybe I’ll try to make Fish and Chips! Deep frying is BIG adventure)
Kids Choice: Laurel chose Corndogs and Applesauce.
Beef Convenience: I see hamburgers in our future
Pork casserole or crockpot meal. hmm, all this says to me is pulled pork, but I think I’ll do pork chorizo and turkey chili.
Make your own burrito night. (again, I didn’t let the protein card dictate this, because we almost always have beef taco meat, or a beef turkey blend.)
and Eat out.
I imagine though, that you could set more interesting categories for yourself. I sure would if it wasn’t picky house around here. Things like Salad night, or wine cheese and roasted seasonal vegetable night. Or “it’s too hot to cook so we’re having margaritas for dinner night.”
There are fun apps for iphones/ipod touches. One is called the Dinner Spinner by Allrecipes. It’s not nearly as awesome as the site itself is, but it is useful when you’re completely out of ideas. you can select a protein, a time frame, wether its a main dish or side dish or whatever, and spin away… it’s like dinner roulette.
I imagine this will become more stream lined as I use it. I’m considering using iphoto to catalogue meals.. by taking pictures of food and assigning keywords.. this would be helpful for my husband who seems to forget what foods we generally eat around here.
Now I should run off and design graphics for protein cards so I can laminate them. oh geeky me.