I love cooking.
The only part of cooking that doesn't get along with me is the dishes. I hate the dishes. With no dishwasher - not even a husband because he is so busy with school right now - cooking is infinitely less fun. But this post isn't about dishes, so I'll move on.
I'm trying really hard to stick to a meal plan and make dinner five out of seven nights a week. Below hopefully you can find some dinner ideas, and learn how I've conquered the beast:
Step One | Casually peruse the weekly ads, circling anything that sounds yummy with a thick, red sharpie. Add stars for things that sound extra delicious. My favorite place to shop is Sunflower Market, our local farmer's market/grocery store. I circle all the wonderful fruits and veggies on the front of their ad, then check out their bulk section. This week I'm picking up brown rice for 79-cents/lb, and I usually also stock up on some couscous and walnuts when they're on sale.
Step Two | Flip through your recipe book, looking for recipes that coincide with the weekly sales. My recipe book is filled with cards and printouts, divided by section. I also have a dinner inspiration section where I simple made a huge list of possible dinner ideas. It makes it easier just browse that list and pick a few. I also discovered Sunflower Market has a large collection of healthy recipes using mostly fresh, raw ingredients.
Step Three | Using your grocery list printout, write down the ingredients you'll need for that week, recipe by recipe, day by day. Here's what mine looks like this week (forgive me for the awful picture):
Step Four | Grab your reusable bags and head out the door. If I have time, I hit up Walmart and price match from the ads. Last night I price matched Sunflower Market's fresh produce and got 4 large apples, 4 oranges, a head of romaine, a large head of broccoli, celery, cantaloupe, bananas, and a cucumber for $9. Not bad, but I will admit that Sunflower Market's produce is much better quality. (I ended up having to go to Sunflower Market anyway because Walmart didn't have strawberries.)
Step Five | When you're home and everything is unloaded, tape your list to the fridge and follow your menu!
This week we're starting with tomorrow, on Wednesday. I usually write this plan out on Friday and shop on Saturday, but because of graduation next week and family coming into town, we won't need to plan for Thursday and Friday.
This week's recipes are:
Tuesday | Beef Enchiladas (one change: we use red enchilada sauce instead of picante sauce)
Wednesday | Baked Potato Soup (I freeze the extras in the sour cream containers used for the soup, making individual servings. Then I just thaw two in the fridge!)
Thursday | Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
Friday | Rib-eye steak with steamed broccoli and Caesar salad
Saturday | Twice-baked potatoes (we usually go out for lunch or dinner so I never plan much for Saturday)
Sunday | Breakfast: Souffle Omelet with Balsamic Strawberries, Dinner: Homemade Ravioli, roasted red potatoes, salad
Monday | Spaghetti, homemade french bread, salad
Tuesday | Chicken & Fish*, roasted red potatoes, steamed broccoli (I don't eat fish, so I just substitute my serving of fish for chicken in for whatever recipe I am using)
For more dinner ideas, this month we have also made stir fry, French onion soup with a side of asparagus (between the two of us we eat nearly a pound of asparagus), garlic chicken pizza (excellent, fast pizza dough recipe found here), Chinese chicken salad, chicken parmesan, and bbq pulled pork. Good luck! I hope this encourages at least one of you to start cooking more regularly! :)