What's for Dinner?

Taco Bake from BeautyBeginsWithBiscotti
What’s For Dinner? Isn’t that question on our minds every day? You know our kids and husbands are thinking it, and the question lurks somewhere in the back of our mind behind, “did I pay that school fee?” and “When am I going to send my niece a birthday present?” I love the time and conversation our family has over dinner,  but planning and then making it can be a struggle if I’m just posing the question at 4:00pm. 

One of the things that was transformed when I began working part time was our family dinnertime. Costco’s drop in profits coincided with my new shopping list. Frozen pizza, salmon burgers, taquitos, spinach ravioli, and eggplant parmesan remained in the store freezer instead of my buggy. I didn’t have to rely on freezer to oven meals any more. I actually had time to cook! Not that there’s anything wrong with feeding your family this way, I just happen to love cooking and searching for healthy and filling recipes. I come by honest, as my mom and dad were in the food service business their whole lives, and my dad retired as a baker. You know there were some good smells coming out of our home!

I had a lot of fun making up meal plans and trying out new recipes on the family. This Week for Dinner is a great blog with lots of dinner inspiration. One of the planning tools I ran across involves planning meals for a month. That seemed to be too much at the time, but I’ve now embraced it and want to share some resources and how I use it. 
Heather Hale, from Moderately Crunchy, explains the concept well. She has printable PDFs that you can download and print. I adapted her plan and made a Word document that I keep in Evernote. So, you assign a theme to each day of the week. For May, some themes are Soup & Sandwiches, Mexican, Whole Foods, etc. Next month, I’ll include Grilling as a theme. Then just jot down four or five meals under that theme to fill in a a column. One thing I love about this is that I can be on the lookout for great deals on food I’ll need in a couple two three weeks. 

Less planning and shopping means that I have more time for other things, like playing soccer in the back with the boys or enjoying the twilight with my honey. You can plan your meals in less than an hour for the entire month and then decide which store has the best deals for your recipes. 

I’d love to know how you plan your dinners and what your favorite meals are! Are you already doing something similar? How did it go? Or are you inspired daily to create a meal with what you have?