Oh my.... do I have trouble with this! I have the hardest time putting a meal on the table and I find that I harbor resentment that I have to do it. I definitely need to deal with my own feelings about this but I want to make it easier and more of a gift for my family.
It seems like everyone else has it under control..... women like to cook and put dinner on the table, right?
Wrong here :-( When in doubt... there's always hot dogs... My men are fine with that but I know that I am not doing a good job nutritionally for anybody!
Anyway - what I DO like is being a homemaker... which includes the dreaded 'dinner on the table'!
So, in the interest of simplicity and frugality, I have been looking for some kind of system that will work for us.
Per conventional advice, I tried to figure out our activities for the week... like which night could I make what.... but that started getting complicated... because it varies. Seriously, maybe it is my perfectionism... but ONE schedule change and the train went off the rails. And, around here, a change in schedule is the RULE, not the exception!
With the parameters that SOMETIMES the two teens join my husband and me for dinner... but I still need to think up, purchase and prepare a meal anyway.. here is my current attempt...
First I gathered information... what do we actually eat?
I asked the family for their favorites.... of COURSE the boys opted for burgers and dogs, pizza and mac 'n;cheese. My husband mentioned his favorite chicken and rice soup, taco bake and chicken stir fry. I love lasagna, Mexican chicken and chili.
I found that we repeat a lot of our meals - over and over. We usually have a burger / dog sort of night during the week and sometimes a pizza night. I usually make a soup of some sort each week and a one pot meal (but it's usually an ordeal finding recipes!). We usually have at least one night of eating out of the refrigerator - and sometimes we can't get together so some are eating out and others are culling from the larder. If we are not running a lot, or if there are not a lot of leftovers, I might try something different.
I think a rotating schedule would be good... like a rice soup one week and a bean soup the next.... lasagna one week, chicken pot pie the next...
So I tried a different approach..made a worksheet with 3 columns.... soup, one pot entree, sandwich, and alternate entree. That's 4 options plus leftovers. For 7 nights, that is a great head start for us.
For each entree, we will add 2 veggies and/or a salad.... sometimes a bread...and we will be good to go!
I did make an excel spreadsheet. I will cross off the different meals as we eat them, ensuring greater variety in what I serve my family. I can also do a better job of using what is in the pantry and freezer... and should have plenty of inspiration!
Let me know if you would like a copy of my worksheet... it is personalized to my family.. but may help you. Also - if you have EASY, quick meals, I'd love some ideas!