Thursday, August 31, 2006

An update on meal planning, schmeal planning

I know, I know ... what I'm going to eat tonight makes for truly fascinating reading, doesn't it?

I can feel the tension in the blog-o-sphere as millions hundreds dozens of readers my children ask the question: "What's for dinner?"

Here's the answer: leftovers. And I'm darn proud of them. I'm proud because they are leftover from a meal I planned (insert many huzzahs, cheers and congratulations here, or, shake your head over my pathetic compliment-fishing for doing something I should already be good at.)

I read over the comments I got on my original schmeal planning post and considered every single one. All the suggestions were great -- I just needed to figure out which would work best for me (in other words, "What will I actually do?")

Saving Dinner looks great. I still plan to investigate it a bit more. Liz's suggestions about Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals sound yummy, but would involve more grocery stops than I want to make. Kristina and Maureen's suggestions come closest to the way I used to meal-plan. I decided it would be best to return to my tried and true method of checking sale fliers, and planning roughly a week at a time, with our schedule in mind (Home all day? Time to teach the girls to cook? Great. Soccer night? Good for leftovers. You know the drill.)

I went through my recipe box (which was a mess) and threw out lots of things that have been in there for years (but which I've never made.) I made a master list of meals, with headings such as chicken, beef, meatless, sandwiches, soups, casseroles, etc. You see, part of my problem is that I have very little creativity when it comes to food. I could fix the same five meals every week, and be perfectly satisfied to eat them, as long as there's chocolate for dessert. My family, however, gets a little tired of the food ruts I fall into. So, the master list is great for jogging my memory: "Oh, yeah! Atticus loves those seafood pasta roll-up things. I haven't made them for ages because I forgot about them. Maybe he'd like those, instead of fried rice for the 17th time this month. Me? Love the fried rice. Where are the M&Ms?"

The next step, if I get truly organized, will be to prepare a list of ingredients for each meal on the master list, so that shopping will be even easier.

Sigh. I knew what to do, didn't I? I just had to do it. For me, getting dinner on the table really boils down to a matter of the will. I have to will myself to be organized, disciplined and on top of things. I have to keep willing dinner to happen.

Hmmm. There's a cookbook title: Willing Dinner. I'll get back to you when I find a publisher.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget soup! Big pots of soup are perfect for winter, and you can really load up the veggies!

PS--glad more people aren't "willing" to do dinner, I'd be out of business. : ) Amy

The Bookworm said...

I told my children that from next week all meals would be planned ... and the response was disbelief ("Oh yes! We've heard that before ... lots of times!"). Ha! I'm modelling perseverence against the odds!

Andrea said...

Hey I;'d buy "Willing dinner". :) One thing I've done is make a list of meals I know we all like. I've even polled the kids. This helsp for when i'm "stuck".

i also find it easier to cook in cooler weather.

Kristin said...

Amen to this post! Let me know when your new book is available --- I'll buy a copy for each room in our house!!! Then again, maybe I won't want to ...