After the holidays, it feels good to put some structure back into your life, doesn't it? An aspect of that is putting a quick, tasty, balanced meal on the table every night. I feel strongly that providing a good meal for my family is part of creating an atmosphere for their success.
These days, it is even more motivating to plan dinner with food becoming more expensive. I recently read an article on ways to fight rising food costs, which suggested:
- eat at home
- plan your menus before shopping
- shop infrequently
- don't buy prepared food.
With a little planning, you can prepare delicious and nutritious meals at home for a fraction of the cost of eating out. When you consider four combo meals at a fast food restaurant comes out to at least $20, you could buy steak or fish, real vegetables and fruit for less than that for a family of four. It takes a few more minutes, but you don't feel guilty afterwards!
If you are at a loss as to what to plan for dinner or if you're bored with what you've been cooking, I have an answer for you: Hassle Free Dinners. I spent a couple of years creating this information, with a year's worth of seven dinner menus per week. Each weekly menu contains color-coded instructions for each day of the week and a weekly shopping list.
Recipes show amounts for two, four, and six servings so you don't have to do the math. Nutritional information and cost per serving is listed for most recipes. And no entree is repeated during the entire year.
Each week includes 1-2 chicken, 1-2 beef, 1-2 pork, and 1-2 fish recipes, with one meatless meal. Each meal includes protein, carbs, and something red and something green - fruit and/or veggies. Menus are listed according to months, and use seasonal produce for that time of year. Don't worry - no liver or Brussel sprouts!
This system allows you to shop once a week, saving bunches of time and money. I read the other day about a woman who plans her meals on the way home from work, keeps recipes in her car, and stops at the store each night on the way home. Even if she spends only 20 minutes each time she shops, that's 100 minutes for five days. I can usually do my weekly shopping in an hour or less when I have a plan.
Hassle Free Dinners is for people who don't mind cooking, but don't like to plan or are out of ideas. It's a marriage of dinnertime and professional organization, streamlining the time you need to spend in the kitchen in order to put a decent meal on the table.
More on planning dinner:
Hassle Free Dinners
Three Steps to Planning Dinner