Monday, January 31, 2011

What's For Dinner?

Now, don't get all excited - this is not going to be a blog full of recipes. I grew up with a Mom who not only was a phenomenal cook but also very daring. We dined on anything from liver and onions to cow tongue and that was in the days before chicken nuggets - not that she would have made a separate meal. My sister took after my mom and I have 2 sister-in-laws who could create their own cookbook. So I decided early on to be good at other things.

But I do cook dinner just about every night. Now most people make a schedule of dinners for each night of the week, grocery shop and then cook accordingly. But I never felt comfortable having so much power over the dining enjoyment of 5 other people.

So when I go grocery shopping instead of making a list (I'm bound and determined to prove that i didn't lose all my memory giving birth to 4 children) I shop what is on sale. If chicken is at a good price I buy 5 - 6 packages, if spaghetti is buy one get one free - I fill the cart. Then when I get home I write down all the different meals we could have that week from what I bought and post it on the fridge. Then the requests come in "can we have chicken scampi tonight?" "I have volleyball - just soup and grilled cheese on Thursday". I make ONE meal for the night - no ala ca rte - and then I cross that meal off the list. This way the family knows what they might be eating that week and when they want to make dinner- they know all the ingredients are on hand.

Another time and money saver is the crock pot - it's the miracle of the kitchen - and to think, I got it as a wedding gift! I will put a whole chicken in with a can of tomatoes and like magic - dinner! I can make 3 different meals from that 1 chicken and the best part is that it is already cooked and ready to go for the next meal.

A number of years ago I had the whole family brainstorm their favorite meals. I wrote them on cards and when I was stumped as to what to make, I consulted the cards.

Dinner times are family time in our house and this system puts good, nutritious meals on the table with minimal effort and expense and doesn't that just make cents!!


  1. my favorite meal is free choice! this usually occurs on Sunday nights or nights that everyone has somewhere to go. It has encouraged me to like cooking, and I get to try out new recipes. My friends find it hilarious that we actually have a title for what usually occurs daily in their house...eating without their family. I love family meal time!

  2. That comment was from my sweet daughter Megan - she reminded me that I forgot about "free choice"!!

  3. I have always felt guilty that I don't do a menu plan or organize our meals in any way, but this makes me feel better. I do much like you do, and just shop what is on sale or looks good, and then go from there. I like your idea of putting the ingredients on the fridge; I may try that.

  4. Don't forget the "scratch and dent" shelf in the grocery store...I just got three large boxes of cheerios for 1.30 each!! Every time I go to that shelf I think of you since you enlightened me :) I buy EVERYTHING on it sometimes :)

  5. Oh Janet - how could I forget that - it is a regular aisle in my shopping- i usually go there first when I get to the store because I'm afraid someone else - like you - will beat me to it!! Ask at the front desk if they have a shelf for things that are reduced and if you like a product and its a good price= buy them all!

  6. This absolutely sounds like something that would work great for me. I keep saying I am going to try the whole planning a menu thing and I just never follow through. Thanks for the great tips!


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