When I first got divorced, I vowed to continue to have sit down family dinners every night. This was a staple in my home growing up and I wanted my girls to have the same great memories of sitting around the table and discussing their days, while enjoying a good, home-cooked meal. This was no easy task given I was a single mom to two young children while working full-time and tutoring most afternoons until 5pm. I would then rush to pick my little one up from pre-school and get home around 6, just in time to face the ever-stressful dinnertime dilemma. Necessity is always the mother of invention so I developed a process of meal planning that helped me considerably. Even though I now have more time on my hands, I still use this system because hey, it works!
On a Saturday or Sunday morning, I sit with my cup of coffee, my folder full of recipes I’ve torn out from magazines, my personal cookbook (more on that in a minute), and my computer so I can pull up recipes I’ve pinned on pinterest (follow me here!) and plan my meals for the week. I make a quick list- M, T, W, T, F and plan full meals (usually adding one or two desserts for the week) for each of the five days. For each meal, I list all of the ingredients I’ll need on my running grocery list which I keep on my phone.
Recently, I’ve taken this one step further by listing all the meals on this great chalkboard I found at Home Goods. I also add a quote of the week that we spend some time discussing (it works great for discussing literal meanings versus the deeper meaning most quotes have). We also do something called “high/low” where each of us talks about the high of our day and the low of our day (the lows are always interesting…I have found that here you’ll hear things that wouldn’t normally get brought up).
Now about that personal cookbook- it’s really important in my house! This blank cookbook was given to me by my grandmother when I first moved to college. She told me to fill it with the best recipes I could find and I take that task very seriously. Since I enjoy cooking and like to try new recipes, I scour recipes online, on pinterest and in magazines and try them out on my family. If the comments are “it’s ok” or “it’s good but it’s not great” we toss it. If everyone loves it, it goes into the book. The book is now filled with my family’s favorite recipes and both girls have asked numerous times about getting the book when they move out. I figure I’ll convert it into a hardcover book when the time comes and I already know how much they’ll cherish it. Find something similar here.
I usually make two to three recipes from the book that are tried and true and two to three new recipes each week. This way the girls always have a few dishes to look forward to and new dishes and foods to try.
So that’s how I do it and I have to say, dinner is one thing I don’t stress about. 15 minutes on a weekend morning and a few minutes here and there looking for recipes is all it takes to have 5 well-planned dinners throughout the week.