What Am I Going To Cook For Dinner Tonight?
It's 5:45 pm. The kids are asking what's for dinner, your wife (husband) will be home in 30 minutes and you haven't even given a thought of what to make. What do you do?
I find myself in this situation all the time in our house. I'm not sure if I'm just too busy working on my computer stuff, not organized enough, love the challenge of putting out a decent meal in 30 minutes or a combination of all three but I seem to be in this position a lot.
Sure if I were on top of my game I would set up the week's meals on Sunday, do all the shopping, prepare a meal or two that day and make my life easy. No way. Unless there is something special I want to try or we are having guests, I typically don't decide what to make until the last moment.
I don't recommend this style of cooking everyday meals to anyone but I bet there are a lot of you out there who fall into this category. Not only does it put added pressure on you at the end of the day when the kids are tired and starting to get cranky, but you have to come up with meals that you can cook fast without a lot of prep.
It also means you better have a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer with plenty of shortcuts so you can whip something up in a hurry.
Same Meal Another Day
Another problem with this style of cooking is you get into the habit of preparing the same quick meals week after week. No variety. Just simple, tasty meals that you recognize are quick & easy and hope your kids will eat because we all know young kids will love those raviolis one day and hate them the next.
I think this is where some may experience cooking as a chore and not a lot of fun. I don't mind it because I like the challenge of seeing what I can come up with in short notice. Some meals turn out OK and some are outstanding. Just part of the learning cycle.
What to Do
If you find yourself dreading the idea of putting a meal on the table every night or think of it more as a task than an opportunity to create something special for yourself or family, I highly recommend becoming more organized and get your weeks meals set up in advance.
Prepare a stew or roast that you can get two meals out of during the week. Find some shortcut products that you can adapt to make a simple but delicious meal.
One of my goals for this Blog is to write about how we can make everyday meals less complicated and burdensome while making the act of cooking more fun again. Part of my reasoning is it will force me to experiment and widen my own cooking repertoire and skills if I am writing about it here.
As always, I appreciate your comments, feedback and suggestions and I'm sure the folks reading this blog will also.
Cooking for a living and coming home, only to have to fix a good dinner; adds another dimension to the "what's for dinner dilemma".
I don't always have it together, either. However, when I do; I may cook a large roast for Sunday and find ways to alter it for 1 or 2 subsequent meals. Or changing a meat loaf into spaghetti with a meat sauce, for another example
Thanks Jan for those suggestions. We often make a roast on Sunday for the week. - RG
I find not knowing what I'm going to cook some nights encourages me to be creative. The other night I had defrosted a boneless chicken breast. At the last minute, I cut it up into bite size pieces, and after browning a few strips of bacon (removed from pan and broken into pieces) I sauteed the chicken pieces, then added some left over ham pieces, the bacon, and added a sleeve of defrosted Joseph's Garlic Scampi Sauce. After simmering for a few minutes, served it with mashed potatoes. It is a KEEPER meal. I would serve it to company!
There you go Carol. Way to go. - RG
Maybe it is age--or just preservation but over the last 10 years I have used a grocery list that lists the days of the week at the top of the page and grocery departments in columns--I also have a section for Misc. for side trips to other stores. I fill it out weekly on Thurs or Fri. sometimes using the newspaper ads, coupons or recipes. We also have a magnetic tear off list on the refrigerator to remind us of what we have run out of during the week. At the top, I list the menus for each day alternating between red meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian meals--I also include the side dishes. Aside from making sure you bring the list back after you shop, so you remember what you planned, it is fairly fool proof. In fact, you eventually come to rely on it -- at least I did.
Great ideas Estelle, thank you - RG