As a new wife, I have slowly started to become adjusted to some of the new roles that I’ve taken. One of those things that I’ve had to adjust to is cooking every night. I really enjoy cooking, but when I lived by myself, I wouldn’t say that I actually “cooked” that often. It was usually eating popcorn for dinner, eating a salad, or throwing in a frozen pizza. Whatever was easy, I did it because it was just me.
Now that I’m cooking for Andrew, it’s harder for me to justify eating popcorn every night – though there are still nights where I don’t feel like cooking so we have popcorn and pop in a movie and make movie night! At first, I was a little lost. I would come home from work or class, stare at the fridge and freezer and try to come up with something to make. I’d think of something but then remember Andrew didn’t like it or wouldn’t have enough time to make it because we had something going on later. After pondering for half an hour and finally coming up with something, I’d be halfway through prepping before I realized I was missing an ingredient (or four or five…).
It just wasn’t working.
So I sat down and I made a rough list of 30 dishes that I could think of that Andrew and I both enjoyed. This would give us 30 different meals for every day of the month so we weren’t eating the same thing over and over. I could only come up with around 23 off the top of my head (we are picky and boring, I know), so to find some inspiration, I went to Pinterest. I made a board for new dishes and a board for dishes that we’ve made and have been “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” approved.
Note: I wanted to make a list of meals and not just look at a recipe book, because there are dishes we love that you don’t need a recipe for. For example, we love grilled hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches, but we don’t need recipes to make those. So looking at a recipe book would not provide me with a meal idea for either of those. There are many more dishes like this. I find the list gives me way more ideas of meals to pick from.
I found this cute chalkboard a couple of weeks ago at Hobby Lobby where you can write in the meals you plan to cook for the week. This was the best find ever and it was only $6! I usually go grocery shopping Saturday mornings, so before I leave I plan out the meals for the week. This way I know what I’m making and can make sure all of the ingredients are on my grocery shopping list. I like to sit this on my window sill – it makes for a cute decoration while still helping me remember what I’m cooking that night.
Picking out the meals for the week is now really easy, because I’m not restricted by not having proper ingredients or not knowing what to make. I can easily pull up our list of dishes that we enjoy, which is now way over 30 since we’ve been trying new meals and adding to it, which makes picking even easier.
This also keeps our grocery bill lower because I’m not buying fresh ingredients that aren’t being eaten for meals that I didn’t actually end up making. It also tends to make prep time a bit faster. If I know I’m making tacos tomorrow, I’m going to get the beef out of the freezer and let it thaw. Or if I’m making chicken tonight and I’m also using chicken in the dish tomorrow, I can go ahead and cook chicken for both meals, and then tomorrow I just have to throw it into whatever I’m making.
It’s not a complicated process, but just doing those few simple things have been making planning meals for the week so much easier!
Do you cook a lot? If so, do have a meal planning process or just do it as you go?