Several years ago I saw a sign that said “I have a kitchen because it came with the house” in a client’s home. It’s a relief to know there’s at least one other person besides me who doesn’t like to cook. After all, with the huge number of cooking shows on TV, cooking magazines staring at me in the grocery store, and specialty spice shops and olive oil stores popping up all over, I can’t help but think that everyone except me loves to cook (and is good at it as well). I do love to eat, however, so I’ve done all I can to make meal planning as painless as possible. Whether you’re the cook in your home or are lucky enough to be the beneficiary of someone else’s cooking, enjoy these tips to make mealtimes less stressful.
Plan meals for the week. I used to spend stress-filled hours (ok, minutes, but it seemed like hours) staring at the refrigerator and freezer each evening trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I finally took my own advice and now plan dinners for the upcoming week every Sunday. I write them on an erasable whiteboard attached with magnetic clips to my refrigerator. It’s amazing how much less stressful my day is just knowing I can answer the question “What’s for dinner?”
Create a rotating menu routine. I have 21 index cards, each of which contains one dinner suggestion as well as any special ingredients that I’m not likely to have on hand. Rather than having to put a lot of thought into what to make for dinner, I just grab the seven index cards in the front of the stack and use them as my
starting point. I check my calendar to determine which nights might require a quick meal or an early or late dinner based on my husband’s and my schedules. I reorder the seven index cards to correspond to each evening, and write those meals in order on my whiteboard. I write the special ingredients from the index
cards onto my grocery list and check my freezer and cupboards to make sure all of the non-special ingredients are on hand. I put that group of index cards in the back of the stack and I’m ready for next week’s meal planning.
Create a themed menu routine. Another option to make meal planning easy is to have a theme for each day of the week. Themes help narrow down your options, which for me is the biggest challenge of meal planning. For example, Monday is breakfast for dinner; Tuesday is Mexican; Wednesday is pasta; Thursday is soup; Friday is fish; Saturday is pizza – you get the idea. You could also include a night where family members take turns planning (and maybe even cooking!) what’s for dinner.
Here’s a link to my newsletter where you can find some more ideas to help you make mealtime easier than ever. I’d love to hear what helps you manage mealtime mayhem in your home.
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,