Why is getting dinner on the table every night such a giant pain in the ass?
When you are a kid your nightly burden is homework. When you are an adult your nightly burden is trying to figure out what to have for dinner.
It’s my goal to set up a meal planning system that works for me, that is as uncomplicated as possible, and that gets dinner on the table on a regular basis. I have tried lots of different meal planning systems but nothing has worked consistently. I want to make homemade dinners and meal planning a lifelong habit.
Pre-baby I was getting pretty good at putting dinner on the table every night by the seat of my pants.Ta-da! Another delicious meal half-assedly pulled from the fridge at a moment’s notice!
Having a baby changes that, of course, and besides, it was not a very reliable system to begin with. Isobel is quite mobile now and with that blessing comes a curse: she can move around and entertain herself now, which is great, but what does she choose do with this mobility? She follows me around the kitchen, demanding me to be held, while I’m frying bacon or boiling pasta or tending to some other baby-unfriendly activity. Any dinner requiring preparation more complicated than reheating leftovers requires Anthony to watch her while she follows me around wailing. We’re still working on this.
It takes a lot of effort to make dinner happen every night. The act of cooking itself is the culmination of many preparatory steps involving grocery shopping, advance prep work, and the most dreaded step of all – actually deciding what to have for dinner. The goal for dinner is this:
- It has to be tasty and appealing
- It has to be affordable
- It has to be (mostly) healthy
- It has to be prepared in about a half hour (weeknights)
I have been using some iphone apps to help me. My bestie turned me on to Grocery Gadget, and it is worth the ten bucks or whatever I paid for it. I love that you can assign aisles to items, that it saves items so you make lists faster, and that you can modify your lists online and send them to those that share your account. I’ve had issues with adding amounts to things but that’s probably because I didn’t take the time to read the instructions or watch the tutorials.
I’ve been playing around with Mise en Place to organize the tasks associated with each meal (raise your hand if you’ve ever forgotten to marinate the steak!) but it’s more complicated than useful for day to day meal prep.
I use relish to plan two to three meals a week. When I first heard about it I hoped it would become my meal-planning, list-making savior. It hasn’t, but I still find the service to be valuable and well-worth the $7 a month subscription fee. Subscribers also have access to the free iphone app, which is great. I can look up a recipe stoveside if I want and cook from it right there without printing the recipe. Nice!
My meal planning process is still a work in progress. What I want to know is, how do you make dinner happen? Do you share the cooking or planning duties? Do you plan at all? What do you eat most often? Do you have any hints or tricks? Please share and help me make dinner less of a pain in the ass!
(*It should be noted that none of these apps or relish has paid me to talk about their product.)