First I need to share a fabulous, so yummy recipe and then I will share some thoughts/links for mealtime planning.
I've been pinning on Pinterest for almost 2 years. Of all the recipes I've pinned I think the meal I made on Tuesday is actually the first I've made and not just pinned. It was one of the yummiest and easy recipes I've tried in a long time.
Chipotle Chicken as posted on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.
This was "holy cow" good, as in holy cow this is so tasty and holy cow this is so easy to make. I'm all for dinners that are not only easy to make but tasty and appeal to my grown up tastes, yet the kids will eat it.
Now that I finally have internet at home again I can finally use a meal planning website I signed up for-- Plan To Eat where I can input my own recipes or save ones from the internet. Then I click and drag to make menus and it creates a shopping list based on my meal plan. There is a bookmarklet that makes it super easy to add recipes. So I can go to a website like Mel's Kitchen and import her fabulous recipes and I'm on my way to yummy meal times.
In the past meal time planning was not a favorite thing of mine to do, it takes me so much time. But if I don't plan then I have stress each night as dinner time rolls around. One thing I finally realized that made meal planning overwhelming is I didn't have any sort of structure to my planning, it was just picking random meals and hoping we would want to eat it on a giving evening. Also, too many choices is so overwhelming to me.
Once I realized that some sort of structure would be beneficial to me I assigned each night with a theme and then as I planned I only had to look at recipes that matched my themes and it made it so much easier for me to choose recipes for a given day of the week. This especially helps durning weeks where I haven't made a meal plan. If it's Tuesday and I don't know what to make for dinner I don't have to consider every meal out there, I just focus on "taco" type meals (meaning anything Mexican) thus narrowing down my options to choose from.
My current nightly categories are:
Monday - Macaroni
Tuesday - Taco
Wednesday - Whatever
Thursday - crockpot (not clever, but couldn't come up with anything else)
Friday - Fish or Stir "fry"
Saturday - Sub, salad, sandwich
Sunday - Sundaes (such as Hawaiian Haystacks or potato haystacks)
I've still been unsuccessful at meal planning for months, but having this simple system has lessoned my stress as I try to come up with something last minute.
Now that I have my desktop back in action and a real kitchen to cook in (our rental had virtually no countertop to use and it was not conducive to cooking) I have high hopes for making meal planning a regular thing and experience less stress when meal time rolls around.