Dinner Notebook

When I was working full time, I didn't have the energy, nor the time, to prepare and make home-cooked meals. Dinners consisted of freezer to oven/pan meals which were rotated about every two weeks. My goal back then was to feed my family and allow us to enjoy dinner together. A typical week of suppers looked like this:

Monday- Morningstar Farm Chicken patties and salad
Tuesday- taquitoes and couscous
Wednesday- canned soup and grilled cheese
Thursday- Voila or prepackaged pasta
Friday- Pizza delivered or frozen
Saturday- home cooked
Sunday- Costco lasagna

This isn't a bad menu. It allowed me to maintain my crazy, over worked life and gather the family together for half an hour. But, it was expensive, boring, and consisted of easy but not-the-healthiest choices. It was easy to shop for dinners, because I bought the same things, week after week.

One of the first things I did when I began part-time work was plan and prepare home cooked meals my family liked. The first six months I spent going through cookbooks and online cooking sites and collecting recipes.

That first year I tried out lots of different recipes on the family. A thumbs up or down after dinner helped me to decide which ones I would keep.

The next year, I began to be intentional about creating a diverse meal plan. Each week, I crafted a dinner menu, and then shopped on Mondays for the week's groceries and suppers.

I recorded the week's meals in a notebook so I could keep track of what we were eating and avoid repeating the same old meals.

My two boys and my husband began to look forward to answering my question, "What dinner would you like to have in the next two weeks?" I was on my way to incorporating healthy, home-cooked meals that my family enjoyed.