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Meal Planning Resources
I need some help with meal planning. I have 2 questions. One is figuring what
we are having for dinner. Second, how to keep track of what are we eating for
the week and a way to keep track of what we've had in the past, so I have a
list of meals to refer to for the future. Right now, I use a paper pocket
monthly calendar and my Google calendar. I've downloaded an app called Menu
Planner, but didn't like it. I checked the savingdinner.com and
www.thescramble.com websites from the archive. What are some other ideas for
meals and menu planning? I have 2 little ones and need quick and easy
Help with Dinner
I use eMeals.com I got a great 1 year deal its basically like Saving Dinner and The
Scramble . But, to me the recipes are a better fit for our family.
Worth looking into ... They have deals regularly on Groupon and LivingSocial so if you
Google it or go to RetailMeNot.com you'll possibly find an active code to save money on
Hope this helps
the website dinneralovestory.com is helpful, and the book of the same name by jenny
rosenstrach. the book in particular i loved reading, because i have two toddlers and she
chronicles the various stages of being in a partnership and family, having children and
trying to create a lovely, nurturing dinner ritual for meals amid various constraints.
and it's just validating to read about toddler stubborness, and be encouraged to
persevere. she started by keeping a dinner journal! also, i like everyday food. sarah
carey does videos on youtube that are very straightforward, and there are a few cookbooks
out there too. simple, healthful meals that you can pull together quickly. i also love
food52.com, a crowdsourcing food website with home cooks, including at least one column,
dinner with child, with some good ideas for evening meals. when i can manage to menu plan
on sunday and do the shopping, the week is much easier and more pleasurable. but i don't
always manage. i'm curious also to see others' responses, as this is an ongoing effort
for me too. good luck!
dinner with toddlers
I salute you for planning - your meals are much healthier and cheaper than if you didn't
plan. My husband and I sit down every Saturday and make a list of meals and ingredients
and then we shop the list. My neighbors have a printout of standard items that they add
to, then they shop their list. Pretty low-tech, but effective. For me, planning on a
weekly basis removes the stress of wondering what to have for dinner and having to shop
for it. While the kids were home we had a lot of repeating favorites: make your own pizza
night, taco night, fish night. Home-cooked dinners were sized to create left-overs for
lunch. Very popular among those who didn't get up early enough to make a sandwich. Martha
Stewart's Everyday Food (I'm sure there's an app for it) has a lot of quick, easy,
one-pot meals that can be supplemented by a salad or other veggies. Eating Well is also
another source for healthy recipes and they devote a couple of issues a year to meal
planning. Looking forward to reading other suggestions, and bon appetit!
My ideas aren't too high tech so I'm curious as to what others say.
I sit down at the breakfast table on Saturday morning when my husband is home and helping
with breakfast. This seems to be the one consistent thing that happens in our house. I
make a list of two weeks worth of dinners (I used to only do a week but then we sold our
car so I grocery shop less frequently). I then use that list to generate a shopping list.
The farmers market in my neighborhood is on Sunday so I make a column for the grocery
store and a column for the farmers market. I put the dinner list on the fridge and cross
off dinners as we go. Occasionally we eat off list but I try to make my way through the
list since I know I have everything for those dinners. For a big grocery store trip I am
low tech and use a paper list. As we run out of things throughout the week I use the Out
of Milk app on my phone. Then when I'm at the grocery store I don't forget what we need.
I frequently cook out of How to Cook Vegetarian and I also take cook books out of the
library to see if I like them before buying. I don't yet have a way to keep a record of
meals- although if I have a strong opinion or a modification on a recipe I write it down
in the cookbook.
trying to get it all together
Hi, it took me a while, but I have a system that I love. First I have a journal that I
turned into my ''weekly dinner plan''. At the top I put the start to end date (example:
March 11th-17th) then I write out the days of the week going down the page. (Mon, tue,
wed...) Monday and thursdays are typically leftover days. Fridays I like to do a fish
dish and Saturday is burger night (sometimes turkey, pork or a salmon burger). Sundays we
alternate with the grandparents one week dinner at their house and the next week dinner
at our house. For me that leaves tues, wed, Friday and every other Sunday to really think
about. I try to write the menu so there is one night for each animal group (chicken,
pork, fish). Also i make sure i write down the protein, veg and starch for the night. We
usually have a small salad with dinner, simple: greens, tomatoes, cuc and avocado (of
course no salad on burger night since the salad is ON the burger) I write out my weekly
menu once a week (lately I've been doing two weeks at a time! Yay me!) after I make the
menu I write it on the calendar I have that's on the fridge. The calender also has a
pocket so if I have a recipe I need for the week it'll go in there. I write all recipes i
use down on a half sheet of paper, then at the top i use a star rating for how much the
family and i liked it, then i write changes on the bottom for next time. I save all my
recipes in a binder, one side for tried recipes and the other for recipes id like to try)
I use a shopping list app (our groceries). Throughout the week when I notice we are out
of something I quickly open my shopping app and add it. I took awhile to get my system
down, but it slowly evolved into something that really works for me. Hope you can take
something from that
Eventually I'm hoping to get to the point where I can just use last years menu! Hahahhaa
good luck and Bon appetite!
I plan 5-6 meals per week and grocery shop on a weekly basis for myself, my husband, and
my 3YO. I am very low tech--I keep a little spiral notebook (6 x 9) where I plan meals
on one page, and write the grocery list on the facing page. I've been doing this for
three years, and I am on my second notebook. I usually do the plan and shop on Sundays.
I strategize for the most perishable food to be cooked earlier in the week (produce that
stores on the counter or has a short life in the fridge, meat/fish/poultry directly from
the butcher case wrapped in paper, etc.), and I keep ''long cook'' meals in mind for
Sundays, when I have more time to spend cooking (things like stews, slow cooker meals,
and the like--it also supplies leftovers for lunches during the week). Meat/Poultry
that is vacuum wrapped in plastic and longer shelf life produce are all mid week items.
Frozen meats, frozen produce, canned foodstuffs, and pastas are for later in the week.
We invested in a quarter cow and half a pig from a local ranch last year, and I try to
incorporate at least one of those items in the weekly plan (we are down to ground beef at
this point), and then one pasta dish, at least two chicken dishes, and 1-2 others
depending on my mood.
With all that in mind, I keep one or two nights open for leftover night or take out food.
Also, while I can multitask, I have my limits, and most of the meals are single item
(pasta) or protein and side dish (usually vegetable). 3 component meals are hard!
When I feel tapped out with planning, I turn back the pages of the notebook (go back at
least 4 weeks) and start pulling meal ideas from previous plans to fill out the week.
BTW, I keep loose recipes I have found in magazines and from online in a large 3 ring
binder organized by category. I also have a file folder on my computer called ''recipes
to print out''.
I had a subscription to Everyday Food magazine, and I used to find a lot of dinner
inspiration there with simple but tasty recipes. But they no longer print a monthly
magazine, and are only online: http://everydayfoodblog.marthastewart.com/
I also found this blog: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/ I love this blog! Her whole
meal making philosophy aligns with mine. She keeps a dinner journal as well. I use a
lot of the recipes, and I went out and bought the cookbook, which I tagged with post-its
for meals to make. The blog has a category link called ''organizing, strategizing,
planning'' that has lots of blog entries, tips, and links to help with weekly meal
I don't know what your personal dietary restrictions might be, if any, but feel free to
email me if you would like some recipes to add to your arsenal. Good Luck!
The meal planning tool that works for us is alliteration.
We do Meatball Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wonton Wednesday, Thurkey burger
Thursday, Fun Friday (either a restaurant or takeout), Sandwich
Saturday and Stew Sunday.
It may not be the most innovative menu but it really works for us. Our
kids are more involved with cooking and planning (older kid thought of
Weds. plan, younger came up with Saturday). We are creative within the
confines of the plan. My older kid is weighing the merits of Danish
vs. Hungarian meatballs for next week.
Leftovers for lunch
I wanted to chime in and say that I've been using The Fresh 20
http://www.thefresh20.com/ for about 6 months now. They have regular,
vegetarian, and gluten-free meal plans. Each week you get a list of 20
ingredients to buy at the grocery store as well as 5 dinner menus to
cook throughout the week. I don't make all 5 menus each week and
sometimes adapt the menus a bit but it has added some structure to my
planning. I also liked it MUCH better than some of the others since
the emphasis is on cooking with fresh ingredients. I'm saving some
money on weekly shopping since we're wasting less food. It is not
expensive--a few dollars a month. Hope that helps and happy planning!
I read the first set of responses to this question with interest. I have some
additional ideas and tips, so here are my 2 cents: like others, I also plan my meals
one week at a time. In addition, I keep an eye on my calendar so that I have an idea
of when my family's schedule will be busier, especially around meal prep time, so
that I can either plan to have a low-prep meal or I can prep in advance. My blog (new
as of 2013), cozyfoodie.com, actually started with 3 posts with advice and tips on
just this question: see, in particular, "Six steps to more home-cooked meals
(part 1)," where I posted a photo of my week's menu plan and included lots of
suggestions for making home-cooking a priority.
In terms of keeping a record of past meals, I was happy to see that others were
inspired by Jenny Rosenstrach, the author of Dinner A Love Story. I took her dinner
journal idea and brought it into the 21st century by creating a private blog using
blogger.com. It's easy and free. I've been keeping my dinner journal since
2010, and it's become a valuable resource to me: it's searchable, and using
the "tags" function, I labelled new recipes and their main ingredients so that
it's become another way to jog my memory about dishes I've tried. You can
create whatever tags would be useful for your situation.
My 2 kids are now 14 and 12, and I have cooked all the way from infancy to today. A
couple of important things that worked for me are  to start prepping and cooking
dinner early (even the night before!) so that as dinner time approaches, it's
relatively fast and easy;  don't let the little ones or myself get too tired or
hungry (healthy snacks are still my friends!) so that tempers don't fray.
In terms of specific recipes, right now, I'm really into making a bigger batch of
a basic ingredient, using some of it immediately and then freezing the rest in
convenient portion sizes. This has worked great for chicken breasts (check out my
ebook, Twice As Nice: 25 Chicken Breast Recipes for Today and Later on amazon.com
which has some quicker recipes, especially if you use the shortcuts), all sorts of
beans, quinoa, and granola. The slow cooker has also been really helpful (I use
Hensperger and Kaufmann's, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, except I
cut the sugar and salt in their recipes).
This is a note of appreciation for the person who posted about using alliteration as a
meal planning tool. That is brilliant and gave me a good chuckle at the same time.
I'm totally trying it. Your house sounds like a fun place.
I would appreciate tips from parents who are whizzes in the
kitchen. I seem to have chronic trouble creating interesting
and simple menus for my family (husband and one four year
old). I'm a full-time parent and wish I could manage things
better. I look in cookbooks at the last minute and then don't
have the right ingredients, or I buy things for a specific
recipe and something always goes bad before I get around to
making it. I try to keep a well-stocked pantry, but then I'll
go get some organic chicken stock and it has expired! My
husband and I are decent cooks, not terrible but not super
creative, either. I'll find a good recipe and then we all get
sick of it because I make it every time someone comes over
(which is often) or just when I can't think of anything else.
I would really appreciate tips on creating diverse meals for my
family that are interesting but simple. We will eat pretty
much anything, its just my management of it that is our
OH MY GOSH
I think I have a twin in the world.
On behalf of both of us I Hope the responses come pouring in.
Thanks for posting!!
no creativity in the kitchen either
When I first started being a SAHM a few years back, I also
found myself a bit confused by this process. You might want to
check out the website savingdinner.com. They have simple menus,
great recipes, and ingredient shopping lists.
Or, you could do it yourself-- here are the steps I use--
l. list what needs to be used up in frig/pantry/freezer
2. create list of about 6-7 meals for upcoming week, utilizing
items from #l-- in order to pick entrees, I look thru cookbooks
or recipes i have been wanting to use. Occasionally, if i have
an obscure item on hand (like the celery root I got in my CSA
box once), I'll go on line for a recipe. I try to plan for
nutritious variety, so use different protein sources (eg. fish,
cheese, beans, eggs, etc) for various meals. I also list side
dishes at same time so I can be sure I get everything I need at
the market. If entree is complicated, I pick a simple side dish
(like corn or melon). I note down cookbook and page number next
to entree on menu plan, so I can easily find the recipe later
in the week.
3. While creating #2 above, create a separate shopping list of
everything you need.
4. Go shopping with your list. I find I usually end up at
grocery twice a week-- once a week, I go to Monterey Mkt for
the fruits/veggies, and the other day I go to either Safeway or
I don't assign meals to particular nights, since I prefer to
see what I feel like that day and how much time I have to cook.
I try to choose a mix of simple and more complicated recipes
for the week when I'm creating the menu. If you save your menus
over time, you will be more quickly reminded of recipes you
like when you create new menus. Or you could even just reuse
the same weekly menu every month or so.
In our house, we often eat pizza (crust from TJ or boboli from
Safeway-- and creative toppings..), all kinds of frittatas (so
simple and you can put any kind of veggie/cheese combination in
it), quesadillas and tostadas (we're mostly vegetarian).
I think it's also helpful to get to know a few good cookbooks--
I personally get overwhelmed with too many choices, and i find
it helpful to primarily rely on one or two authors whose
recipes and style I come to know and trust. My personal
favorite is Jeanne Lemlin-- simple instructions, relatively few
obscure ingredients, and invariably tasty results.
You described the same problem I have! I have actually given
up trying to change, I blame my mother for never teaching me
how to cook . This is what I do: I go prepare 10 meals at
one of those dinner prep places once a month. Then, two or
three times a week, we eat one of those (just thaw and cook).
We go out to eat twice a week. The other two or three days are
macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, tacos, etc. This
actually does not turn out to be more expensive - because the
meal prep places are buying their ingredients in bulk, you end
up paying less than you would if you tried to buy all of the
necessary ingredients and make that same meal at home. Add to
that the savings from not wasting spoiled food and you come out
quite a bit ahead! I know I could have a smaller food budget
if I cooked everything from scratch at home 7 days a week, but
realistically, that is never going to happen. Good luck.
I feel your pain.
I can relate to your post. A friend inspired me years ago with
her method - she has about 10 recipes that she uses all the time
and makes minor mods to now and again. She plans it out over the
weekend and does one big shopping trip for what she plans to have
during the week...I like using the epicurious website for ideas
and select the ''quick'' checkbox. I also use Cooking the Real Age
Way; they have a great Pantry must have list as does The Food You
Crave. We have become much healthier eaters and don't eat red
meat. Every week we usually have tofu, chicken, ground turkey and
some legumes...and a pasta often too.. Often I make enough for
leftovers. You'll find w/ practice you'll get more confident and
skilled at planning. I'm still learning too. I have a binder
with our ''favorites'' which we end up eating a lot. Ask your
friends too for recipes that are winners..
Keep it simple. I always have whole wheat pasta and brown rice
in a jar, as well as two jars of pasta sauce, one bottle of
Braggs Amino and one with grated parmesan. We cook what we have
and don't look at recipes. So you have one pasta meal ready
anytime and can easily make any type of stir fry with brown
rice. I shop only once a week, mostly for organic vegetables
and fruit. Carrots, celery, potatoes last for a long time and
other greens and red/yellow bell peppers for a week. Avocados
are a regular staple. I developed an extensive shopping list of
basic items and check off once a week what I need to stock up
on. We consistently have nuts (almonds, cashew, walnuts, pine)
around the house. So throwing mixed greens together with
avocado, walnuts (and maybe some dried cranberries) is always
an option. Keep black beans, salsa, shredded cheese and
tortillas in stock for a burrito meal. I also buy Mung beans
once a week and my husband lets them soak overnight and fixes a
great stew with vegetables in it. Other important staples are
garlic, onion and organic frozen vegetables. After eating the
stew we put the leftovers it in a blender the next day and have
it as a creamy soup. My favorite dinner standby is an avocado,
tomato and cucumber sandwich. We're backing off animal protein
for good reasons, but still keep plain organic yoghurt as a
staple. That one goes well with frozen vegetable Masala burgers
and Trader Joe's Masala sauce and their Naan. You can see we're
not completely weaned from processed foods, but try to make
better choices. For any sweet cravings I serve the plain
yoghurt with fresh fruit pieces and a bit of flaxseed granola.
Hummus and whole wheat pita bread with cut up tomatoes and
cucumber makes a great dinner too. We don't even bother
including a falafel. Eat big for lunch and light for dinner, so
your body can detox over night instead of digesting food when
Right above my computer I can see my meal chart. It's a magnetic
board covered in index cards. Each card has a meal on it that I
know we all like. Those are my target meals -- see something on
the board that sounds good that night, and make it. Once it's
made, the card gets flipped over, so that it's blank side shows.
Once there are no meals left, all the cards get put behind the
main deck, and I put up the first ten cards on the stack or so.
This helps me to focus AND to keep things variable AND to make
winner meals that everybody likes. Of course I don't make 7
card-meals a week -- gotta be flexible! Maybe this system will
work for you, too!
Sounds like you are having the same problem that I had a couple of years ago. I
solved it by buying the book ''Saving Dinner.'' This book has 8 menus per season,
for a total of 32 different menus (6 recipes per menu). It's tasty, easy to cook,
pretty healthy. The best part about it is it comes with shopping lists for the
You can either take the book with you, or (my preference) download printable
shopping lists from www.savingdinner.com. I just print them out, cross off the
I have, and go shopping. The author includes side dishes (which are marked, in
case you want to get different stuff -- she's awfully fond of sweet potatoes, brown
rice, and spinach salad) -- but even that works pretty well for me.
We now have good, healthy, homecooked meals in less than an hour, most nights a
Feeding a family is a lot of work! Here's what I do, with a
reasonable amount of success. I have a list of dishes I like
to eat, arranged by type (soup, pasta, etc.) You and your
husband could make this by flipping through your cookbooks to
jog your memories - you'll add to it as time goes by and you
remember more stuff. Every week I pick four main dishes and two
side dishes, assuming there will be some leftovers and that
we'll get takeout a couple of times. I have a regular shopping
day and shop for everything I need that day. I make some runs
to places like Trader Joes for nonperishables like canned beans
and olive oil four or five times a year.
Then I cook EVERYTHING one day a week (I know this is a little
odd. My friends will recognize me in this posting). I'm also
a stay-at-home mom, so I have a day I do nothing but cook (my
kids are in preschool/daycare that day). We have a TV in the
kitchen so I record stuff I want to watch during the week and
watch while I cook so I don't get bored. I only cook things
that will save well for a few days. For instance, I make the
pasta sauce but don't cook the pasta until we'll be eating it.
I also try to make something to go in the freezer every week,
and take something out of the freezer every week. This way I
have some backup for guests or really busy weeks.
This probably won't work for you if you eat a lot of things
that must be eaten the moment you make them (roasts or souffle,
for instance). But many things will save for days in your
fridge - pasta sauce, casseroles, soups, stews, roasted
vegetables, curries. You can also do lots of prep steps for
larger dishes that won't save well - fillings for omelettes,
for example (grate cheese, carmelize onions, cook asparagus).
Thats how I do it.
Love to cook, but not every day!
Yes, I find weeknight cooking to be challenging simply because
it has to get done so darn often! I recently started keeping a
list of quick, simple meals that we like - and I refer to it
when I'm uninspired or planning for the week. I'm up to about
20 meals on there.
I also have a list of recipes that freeze well and try to have
one or two of these in the freezer at all times.
On the weekend, I try to plan & shop for 3 meals for the week.
So each night, I either cook one of the 3 meals I know I have
the ingredients for.. defrost something.. or call-in a pizza!
It's a work in progress - stills seems like I'm at the grocery
store all the time?! - but it's helping.
Check out www.savingdinner.com. It's a service that provides recipes and a
list, for all sorts of subscribers (low fat, vegetarian, etc). The recipes are
and easy too. It's been a big help for us. I think there is a two week free trial
don't like to think about dinner
I was asking the same question a year ago and I've turned it into a sort of hobby.
Here is what I did: get 3 pieces of paper, one for each family member, and write
down lots of things each person likes. For ex. my son likes bread, apples, cheese,
baby carrots, corn, etc.
Then find 5-10 things that everyone likes and always have
these on hand.These will become your ''side dishes''. If you can afford it, buy
the most convenient form possible, so you don't have to prepare them. I even keep
them in a plastic shoe box in the fridge so I can just plop it on the table at meal
times. That way there is always something somebody likes.
Next, make a list of 12
entrees; 4 with chicken, 4 vegetarian, 2 beef, 2 pork.This is when you can plan to
eat according to your values (vegan? local/organic? macrobiotic?), and each person
gets to occasionally eat something only they like. For ex. I love eggplant and my
husband loathes it, but since we accumulate left overs with this plan and have
dishes'', once in a while he can get by and my son gets to try eggplant. The same
goes for his shake n'bake pork chops and my son's Annie's mac n'cheese.
out a calendar. Look at two weeks, on your busiest days, plan canned soup or
spaghetti (soup on Thur., pasta on Tue) Sched. your dinners out. (next Tue and next
Fri) Sched. the rest of the entrees. Make a grocery list based on what you need. It
works best if you plan entrees that work with similar ingredients. Make sure you
buy gallon and quart size ziplock bags. Fourth, cook. Cook all the rice and pasta
you will need for the next week at the same time while making breakfast, doing
dishes, etc. Cool and put in the fridge (pasta tues, beans and rice Fri) Bake all
chicken you will need for the week (roast chicken Sun, Chicken with salad Wed and
chicken tacos next Sun) on Sun aft. You can make the other meat, too. (Pork
tenderloin Mon, pork fried rice next Sat). Cool each and freeze entree size
in ziplocks to be taken out the day before they are needed. Then each day, finish
each entree: make omlets, add sauce for beans and rice, prepare salad, make fried
rice, etc. I even get crazy sometimes and make 4 lbs of ground turkey or pinto
beans at a time, freeze in meal size portions and use them for pasta sauce,
lunches, etc. It frees up a lot of time and uses much less fuel to bake everything
Don't buy chicken stock. Buy bullion. Which is the same thing
but without the water. Then you don't have to worry about it
I keep over 50 spices, but that's because I love variety and it
helps change things up. I also keep about every type of nut in
jars in my freezer (they go rancid so easily at room temp and
then you might think you don't like nuts, when really, it's BAD
nuts you don't like). I keep all manner of grains in my pantry -
quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, cornmeal, pastas, rices.
I also keep dried fruit around as ''candy'', and dried mushrooms,
and sundried tomatoes. Try to keep some chipotle powder around -
the smoky taste is a nice addition sometimes. Keep white wine
in the fridge, just for cooking and mushroom hydrating.
Always keep around onions, garlic and a bag of potatoes.
With these, it's easy to pull together something, and then I
rummage through the fridge to see what veggies I have.
I frequently stirfry or steam my veggies, then add them to
cooking grains (including a little extra water or broth).
You can make lots of simple meals in a hurry by keeping dry
foods on hand (especially if you keep veggies and cheeses on
One note about amaranth - I find it gross unless I first toast
it in a pan with oil, and use no more than 1/3 amaranth as the
total amount of grain I'm cooking.
I do admit fresh foods go bad sometimes - that is the
unforunate product of a busy life, but I do my best.
I can relate to your frustration, it seems like we ought to be
able to handle getting meals together when were home with the
kids. But remember how much of your attention is going to other
things-the kids, activities, household logistics, your own needs,
etc.! First, give yourself a break and acknowledge how much you
ARE doing really well! And know that you are not alone. Sometimes
we all just need a little input from someone else who CAN put
their attention on that aspect of life that's a struggle for us.
My ultimate dream is to live in community where everyone shares
in some of these aspects so the load is lightened for all.
Meanwhile, I'm developing a service to families like yours that
need some new ideas, management tips, assistance with the
logistics and support in menu planning and adding to their
''repatoire'' of great, easy, satisfying meals. I'm drawing on my
25 year background in cooking and catering to consult with
people, work with them in their home and assist them in these
areas so that they can gain new skills and ideas, while
experiencing greater satisfaction, harmony and joy. You know how
great it is to have someone else cook a meal for us? How good it
tastes and how we get to relax and enjoy it with out all the
fuss? Just imagine if you had someone doing this for so that
eventually you can do it yourself, with total ease! If you want
to explore this idea further, feel free to write me directly at
the email address given below. May you be nourished and happy, Laura
You might want to try www.savingdinner.com. They offer ''mealtime
solutions to bring families back to the table.'' Basically, it is
an on-line menu subscription that provides you with a weekly
shopping list and menus. They have all types of menus: regular,
heart-healthy, low-carb, vegetarian, etc. She also provides
cooking tips, ideas for freezer meals, etc. Check out her free
sample menu. Having a plan makes dinnertime a whole lot easier.
I was in a dinner rut a year ago and decided on a monthly dinner menu.
At the end of every month, I sit and plan dinners for the following month. (I
have time to do it weekly, but it also gives time to plan shopping trips). This
allowed me to buy and cook seasonally, taking advantage of veggies in season as
well as eliminating wasted food. Also, my 2 and 4 year olds are more used to the
concept of trying new things at dinner.
I use Cook's Illustrated mag for a lot of good, reliable recipes. Also found good
results with Tara Duggan's The Working Cook and Mark Bittman's How to Cook
Everything Vegetarian. The latter book gives lots of variations and ways to use
leftovers, as well as eating more healthy and reducing meat consumption.
Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss more.
Does anyone have a suggestion for a good weekly or monthly
calendar or planner that provides daily suggestions of simple,
healthy meals to cook for dinner each night? I am hopelessly
uncreative when it comes to deciding WHAT to cook for dinner. I
need someone or something to just tell me what to cook every
night, and perhaps provide some simple recipies and a weekly
I don't need recommendations for any of those ''prepare meals
ahead of time'' places like the place in Emeryville, as I already
have time to go grocery shopping and do the prep work myself and
I don't need to pay extra $$ for the convenience of someone else
doing it for me.
Uncreative but capable dinner cook
there are free sample menus (a week's worth of dinners plus
grocery shopping list) so you can try it out before
subscribing. plus, what i like best are all the different types
of menus available (vegetarian, crock pot, low carb, etc...)
Go check out www.savingdinner.com They have EXACTLY what you
are looking for in a variety of selections. They send out
weekly menus, along with a shopping list, and have several
varieties- i.e. one for vegetarians, kosher meals, a crock-pot
list, oh the list just goes on and on. You subscribe for 3
months at a time for a very small fee and every week you are
emailed a menu with six entrees and their recipes, as well as
side dish suggestions, and the shopping list to go with it. It
is an invaluable resource for those of us who want to cook but
have no imagination! I think you can even get a free menu to
see if you'd like it!
Hope this works for you!!
I just read an article that listed several dinner menu/meal
planner services to try -- you pay a fee and get a weekly menu
w/ grocery list, and usually some kind of chatty newsletter to
go with it:
I have been using the Heart Healthy Menu Mailer from
savingdinner.com for the past month or so. I paid about $10 for 3
months worth and once a week I get a menu with recipes for 6 main
dishes, side dish suggestions and a shopping list. Some of the
recipes take a little longer than others, but none are overly
complex. My husband and I have *really* enjoyed all but one or
two of the recipes we've tried so far and our 2-year-old likes a
lot of them too.The web site has some sample menus if you'd like
to try the system out first and see how it works for you. I'm
really happy I'm doing this -- it's made my life a lot easier and
we're saving money by cooking at home more
A few months ago, Real Simple magazine did an article reviewing
online meal planners, called ''Six Menu-Planning Websites,''
which is available at www.realsimple.com (search for menu-
planning). Haven't tried any, but they look interesting..
Check out savingdinner.com. I've used it for over a year and
what a difference !
The 6'oclock Scramble is GREAT! I have been using the website
now for about 6 months. Although, there is a cookbook too.
Also, I'm sure you'll get a lot of this one and that is
www.Saving Dinner.com also really good stuff. Both give you the
grocery lists and assist you in stocking the pantry.
I too was having a hard time with being ''Creative'' when
preparing meals for my family. Now, even my VERY PICKY 3 year
old eats new things!
Lovin' Home Cookin'!
Try ''Saving Dinner'' cookbook by Leanne Ely. She has other books,
too, like ''Saving the Holidays'' and I don't know what else. I
just have ''Saving Dinner.'' There are six meals per week, almost
always there is at least one fish meal, one crockpot meal per
week and the weeks are broken up into seasons. She does have a
shopping list at the beginning of each ''week'' detailing every
single ingredient you'll need, and has side suggestions as well.
She also has a website from which you can purchase weekly menus,
emailed to you: www.savingdinner.com.
One other cookbook that I like, which also refers to different
recipes as good sides (also in the book) is ''What's for Dinner?''
by M. Vollstedt.
Just one note: I feel like I could have written your post. This
is one of the things that my husband and I fight over quite a
bit, actually. I would be happy with a salad for dinner every
night but he's a carnivore, so I get stuck cooking stuff that, if
he doesn't like, just sits around.. yuck... I'm also looking
forward to other responses! :D
I started using the book The Six o Clock Scramble and it has 5
meals per week broken down seasonally with weekly shopping lists.
It's quite handy. More details about my experience on
I have also heard good things about www.savingdinner.com but
haven't used it myself
I had the same issue with needing help w/ dinner ideas & found
''Saving Dinner'' very helpful as recommended on BPN. Check out
the website http://www.savingdinner.com/
You can subscribe to a weekly emailer, which gives you 6 day menu
along with the shopping list. I tried the free menu online & it
was pretty good. I opted to go buy the book, since I think it
comes out to be cheaper that way, and I download the shopping
list from the website, print it & write all over it as I shop.
The book also has the weekly menu, but I don't like to lug a book
to the supermarket. It's saved me a lot of time, particularly
shopping time & the headache of figuring out how to keep from
making the same boring foods over & over
Saved by the Book
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