How many times have you asked yourself, your spouse or your family that question? There are certainly weeks where that question comes up in our house!….and I get the same answer…”I don’t know”
My husband Kofi is a picky eater but by now I know well enough what he does and doesn’t like – though I have been able to talk him into eating a few things that prior to trying, he claimed he didn’t like 🙂 At the end of the day he is pretty easy to please, for the most part he eats whatever I make as long as he knows what it is. (as an aside, I did try “tricking” him into eating bison and it didn’t go over so well, I wouldn’t recommend this technique in your marriage lol)
You would think that cooking for someone who is easy to please would make deciding what to cook for dinner easier, but I still struggle some days!
I wanted to share a few of my strategies for simplifying that 5pm, “what’s for dinnner” dilemma.
1) Meal plan
This is by far the most effective strategy. When my schedule allows, and I do my best to make time for this, I spend about 45min-1hr on Sundays planning dinner for the week. Firstly, I take a look at our schedule – what’s going on, who’s home which nights, which days are the longest (in other words I won’t feel like doing much!), which days are shortest (more prep time on these days). Then I take a quick peek in the freezer, fridge and pantry to see what I have on hand. From there, I come up with 2-3 fail-safe recipes that we eat on a regular basis, double check the recipe ingredients and add anything I don’t have on hand to my grocery list. Next, I take a look either online or in my recipe books for 2-3 new recipes, I like looking online best because of the reviews, but I have come to realize that a few of the recipe books I own have more hits than misses for good dinners! I choose 2-3, check the ingredient list and add to my grocery list what I don’t have. VOILA!!!! Dinner ideas prepped, grocery list complete. These weeks are a breeze!
2) Keep frozen meat and veggies on hand
This is something I learned from my Mom, growing up in rural Alberta where grocery stores are open limited hours and are always a 10-15min drive minimum away, you need to have meat and veggies in the freezer! If I haven’t had time to meal plan on the weekend and we’re having a really busy week, the one thing I ALWAYS do is take meat out of the freezer in the morning. That way at the very least I have one thing ready to go when I get home. I realize I could pick up fresh meat on the way home, but I like to stock up on fresh meat when it’s on sale and freeze it in smaller packages at home 🙂
In the summer it’s easy to bbq the meat and either grill or make a salad out of whatever veggies we have in the fridge. In the winter, I usually opt for a stir-fry or steamed veggies alongside whatever I took out that morning. It’s also easy enough to pick up veggies for a side dish or salad on the way home from work!
3) Have someone else do the cooking
For those days when you’re totally drained, take advantage of modern day conveniences! Most local groceries stores sell rotisserie chicken hot and ready to go. Pick up one of these babies, a bag of pre-chopped stir-fry veggies, pre-made salads, and/or bell peppers. Shred the chicken and make a stir-fry, chicken salad or chicken wraps (try lettuce wraps for a leaner choice!).