Friday, May 21, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Years ago I heard a woman comment that her mother used to say in the afternoons, "Well, at least in a couple hours I'll know what I made for dinner."

It seemed a strange comment to me at the time, but now I understand how the question of WHAT'S FOR DINNER can loom larger and larger as the afternoon wears on and how unappetizing the task can seem. For years I've had a list of favorite dinners to chose from as I make the weekly menu and grocery list. But so often I sit staring at that list feeling I'd rather poke myself in the eye than make any of those things.

So I've finally come up with this:
It's all the dinners I like to make (and that, for the most part, my family likes to eat) in categories. The idea is that when I sit down to plan the weekly menu and shopping list, I can choose one item from each category and voila the job is done. If I keep four or more items in each category, we'll never end up eating the same thing more than once a month.

I even wrote out the "Cheater" category for those nights when schedules conspire to make an actual home-cooked dinner out of the question. When I'm too harried to even think up a quick dinner idea, I can just choose something lame like "eggs" off my handy list.

{We almost always eat meat-free dinners, but I do have "chicken" and "shrimp" categories that we draw from occasionally. And probably about twice a year, I get jonesin for ground beef and add that to some of our otherwise meat-free dishes.}

To celebrate, I reorganized my binder of magazine clippings and Enrichment handouts with pretty dividers corresponding with my new categories.

And on one busy night this week, we ate this:

* This is my 500th blog post. Sheesh.


  1. That's awesome! I am approaching my 500th post, too.

    I love to read other peoples' menus and methods. I just write two weeks off the top of my head and do my list from the plan, but I think I will evolve to something like yours where I have a list of our favorites so it isn't such a pressure. I also like to browse my cookbooks to try something new once or twice during my two week list.

    I didn't know you were on the edge of vegetarian. My dad just gave us a bunch of pork. It's pretty much his fault we aren't closer to vegetarian than we are. I would like to go more that direction, but I get mildly overwhelmed when I think about it, so I'm waiting until I am ready right now.

  2. What a great idea! I need to think about this kind of plan and wonder if I even have any categories--right now it is more like "10 minute dishes" or "slow cooker" and obviously I only have a few of the former and forget to do the latter so my methods are failing me. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love the cheater list! I rarely leave that realm, personally.

    I've thought of doing a list like that. I do have a shopping check list, as well as commonly made cookie and pancake recipes taped to the inside of my cabinet door.

    I love all your ideas for smoother living!

  4. That quote from your friend's mom is too funny!