Thursday, October 21, 2010

Making Dinner

Deciding what to make for dinner is a complicated task in our house. We keep kosher, I am a super picky eater with food allergies, and Josh is always hungry for a real meal when he gets home from work. Add in the fact that we like to eat at home during the week, both try to bring lunch to work, and attempt to be healthy when possible, and it's an uphill battle. Navigating what works and what doesn't for us has been a challenge.

To make matters worse, this time of year is nutty for us. Josh coaches soccer after work and gets home later than usual. On top of that, we have begun exercising some days at night instead of the morning. Plus, I'm trying to stay away from chicken and meat on a regular basis, but refusing to be a full blown vegetarian (because I do not eat/like many veggies). Basically, dinner time is not fun time. 

Blindly walking into the market never works for us. We always forget something, buy too much of the wrong product, and without fail go home without cohesive meal options. In an effort to streamline the process, we have added some long term planning into our meals. 

The biggest thing for us is to eat healthy meals without being stressed. The minute it gets hard or we are disorganized, we reach for the easy option, which in our case is the pizzeria at the corner of our street. With a lot of trial and error, we have figured out a system that works for us. In theory we stay on track and try to eat well.

While we are not perfect and our plan is living document, here are 10 steps we take to get around the dinner rut.
  1. Every Sunday we sit down and look at our schedules for the week. We figure out which nights we will both be home, how much time we will have to prepare for dinner, and if we will make it to our Zumba and Spinning classes that week.
  2. Once we know our schedule, we plan out our meals. We try to make full dinners on the nights one of us is home early. 
  3. Our biggest challenge is being creative. We try to make a variety of foods, flavors, and textures to keep it interesting. However, we are not always as successful as we would like to be.
  4. After planning out meals for Monday through Thursday (Fridays are always a different animal) we determine which nights work best for leftovers. If we don't have leftovers for nights we are at the gym, we always fall victim to pizza. (I hate to admit it, but it happened last night!)
  5. Then we work on lunches. It makes life easier if we make lunch at the same time we are making dinner. This is challenging because of Josh's restrictions on lunches through work and my refusal to eat the same food too many meals in a row. This is where our creativity comes in.
  6. With the meals planned out for the week, we go through our refrigerator and pantry to see what we have vs. what we need. 
  7. Then we check out the coupon draw to see if there is anything there.
  8. Finally, we head over to the market to buy our pre-determined meals. We always leave room for a few impulse buys. Otherwise the options get pretty stale. 
  9. Once we have bought our food, Josh takes stock of what we have and fills in the produce gaps at Russo's on his way home from work on Mondays. They have the best produce and their prices can't be beat.
  10. The last step to our plan is to stick to it! 
It may seem like these 10 steps take a lot of time, and sometimes they do, but it is worth it in the end. Generally, when we stick to our planned out meals we eat better, save money, and are happier with our choices.

What tricks of the trade do you use to keep your family's meals on track?


  1. Great 10 tips good for you guys if it works it works.