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A successful dinner.  Dinner isn't always this good.
A successful dinner. Dinner isn’t always this good.

Have you ever had that 5:29 pm conversation with your significant other where someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”  Then the response, “I don’t know.  What do you feel like?”  This is followed by hemming and hawing and harrumphing.  For us, it’s also followed by someone picking up take-out.  We can’t even easily decide on what to get for take-out!   I blame decision fatigue, and if you haven’t heard of this concept, you need to check it out.

My day involves hundreds (probably more) of decisions.  These are typically small at home and big decisions at work, but my days at home have so much more variability and options that the small decisions wear me out (Decision fatigue, my friends!!).  “Cereal or pancakes for breakfast?”  “Apple or blueberries for snack?” “Go for a run or take the dog for a walk?” “Take the baby to the library or the pool”  And what to wear and which chores to tackle, etc, etc.  By the time I get around to dealing with dinner, my brain has shut down.  My poor husband – this is the point in the day that we get to spend time together.  I have so much respect for the full-time Work-At-Home-Mothers who are able to do this job gracefully.

At any rate, I’m in search of a sustainable dinner solution.  Right now, I try to make a weekly menu, and then I try to buy all the ingredients (I consistently forget something.  Usually it’s something minor.  Every now and then it’s the main ingredient).  If I’m really lucky, dinner can be made in a crockpot, started before work, and is ready when we get home.   What’s a busy mom to do?  I’ve drooled over Once a Month Mom.

slow-cooker-stuffed-pepper-soup1

via Once a Month Mom

Their collection of recipes looks yummy and the concept is tempting.  I’m just not convinced I can secure an entire day to prep or that I have the freezer space necessary.   I’ve also been clued into Fresh 20.    Bless these people and their organized, healthy meal plans.  What I need is an organized approach to my own recipes.  We are a family of fairly picky eaters.  (I’m talking about the two adults, not the toddler.)

A not-uncommon site at dinnertime
A not-uncommon site at dinnertime

A possible solution is to compose my own list of family recipes, put it in excel and do a “Once a Month Mom” approach to our own menu.  Except maybe “Once a Week” and cut back on the prep time and freezer space needed.  Oh, bother.  I can’t decide what to do.  It is the end of the day, after all.  :)

I would love to hear your comments and suggestions!   Laura, what do you do for dinner that keeps your sanity?

Emily sig

10 Comments on What’s for dinner?

  1. Em you read my mind. I have this problem. I have the babysitter that rescues me occasionally (I know, I’m spoiled), but what I have done the last 2 weeks is jot down meals on the wall calendar, where our other stuff is. Monday I have no sitter, so it is something easy like spaghetti. It may just be a reminder to use something that’s in the back of my produce drawer “Use Brussels Sprouts”. Just something to get me started.

    I don’t plan a meal for the one-adult nights (i.e. Adam has softball, or I have a dinner meeting, etc. – those are leftovers nights). Plus the challenge is remembering weekend plans where other people are cooking for us (hallelujah!) So really it ends up being anywhere from 3-5 nights a week. But that’s the challenge, with the once a month or weekly thing – I would probably have too much food.

    Working backward, once I have the 3-5 nights listed out, I can try to get my peapod.com order together and set for a Monday delivery. That’s on a good week. I haven’t done that religiously at all. I’m trying to get better b/c really it would take care of some decision fatigue out to just jot it down on Saturday and forget about it after that.

    • Nice, thanks! We don’t have peapod in our area, but I did sign up for a CSA! I’m hoping that will take away some decision fatigue as the produce will already be chosen! :)

  2. We don’t eat things from a box, and very few thing with labels, so when we are in a hurry, our stand-bys are breakfast for dinner (pastured eggs, omlets with spinach and sweet potato hash, maybe an orange or grapefruit) or salads with lots of fresh veggie toppings, maybe some fruit and sprinkled with nuts.

  3. I use tastebook.com for my recipes (entering the recipes not as daunting as they seem because honestly most could be tracked down almost exactly on-line and then cut and pasted) and a menu list on my wordprocesser with foods divided into regular, crockpot and, “instant” (for nights when I have 45 mins to get home, fix dinner, eat, take dog out and scoop kitty litter and return to work). I have at least 6 weeks of food on my menu and sit down with my calender (full of events) and try to match up nights. This fall my work schedule is getting worse so I’ve now frozen about 10 meals and plan to use one a week and also add one a week to the freezer because it really takes only a few minutes to cook extra (especially since this year it’s generally just son and I as daughter is off to college) and will help immensly. Currently I’m still in the throws of the garden so I have to adjust menu for what’s in the garden.

      • Generally weekly but I have easy access (7 miles and 15 miles, but by one of my work sites) to two small groceries. The further one is my favorite and has much better produce (and meats on the rare occation I need them), but my ability to go there is sometimes limited by the time between end of work and son’s schedule, so I might do a canned/frozen/dairy trip to the close one and then a 10 min produce/meat stop at the other. If I’m in a real city (closest 40 mins away) I may stop for luxery items like kefir or fresh motzerella. I write out a list in order of my favorite store. When you live far from civilization you learn to be compulsive about lists.

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