We all have the best intentions.
We go to the grocery store, we try and get what we think we need for that day/days/week, we make a list, we scan the aisles, we unpack the bags, we know what is there.
But then the week gets in the way, the kids are a nightmare, traffic is a joke, a meeting runs late, you need wine more than food. And spaghetti it is and groceries go bad in the fridge.
This scenario is not only common, but also totally fine.
We cannot all have it together and get a meal on the table each night. I certainly do not and I am one of the fortunate ones who actually have minor skills in the kitchen. It is even harder for those that are dipping their toes into the wide and overwhelming world that is cooking.
But, there is hope and a few ways to make your kitchen a safe haven (experience or not) and not a stress and sweat induced room that gives you anxiety around mid day.
Plan out your week, then plan out your meals.
Take the time to get every one's schedule together for the week. Throw out the nights you know that dinner will be a struggle (take out! leftovers! scrambled eggs!) and focus on the nights you know that cooking is possible and plan around the prep time you have. Once you know how many dinners you have to put together, you can make a grocery list, and know exactly how your week is (most likely) going to go.
Keep it healthy and work by the numbers.
On the weekends we tend to have a diet free-for-all, so during the week I try to stick to a protein and veggie heavy menu. So especially for those weeks when I want to keep things simple, I buy one protein, one veggie, and ingredients for a salad for each night I cook. Proteins can always be grilled or roasted and veggies can always be roasted or steamed. It is simple and when a new recipe sounds like more work than any fun, this is the perfect plan.
Designate each night as a certain dish.
I recently read this on Cup of Jo and thought it was genius. To keep meals super simple, you make the same type of dish each night of the week. Example: Monday is stir fry, Tuesday is tacos, Wednesday is pasta, Thursday is soup and salad, and Friday is burgers. Then you just switch up the ingredients for those dishes each week so it does not get stale.
Go to the market the least amount you can.
Errands, ugh. The ultimate time suck. Plan your week, make a list, and get everything you need for the week. This makes you plan ahead and then you will be more motivated to execute your menus if the food is already sitting in your fridge.
If you are up for an adventure, just try one new recipe a week.
No one is judging you in the kitchen except yourself and whoever you may be feeding. Who by the way are lucky to have you and anything you make. So don't pressure yourself to go off your already well beaten cooking path if it keeps you sane. But if you are up for something new, pick one meal or even just dish a week. Low pressure equals better success and more fun. If you are looking for any new ideas look here or my previous cooking site!
Do you have any tricks you use to get dinner on the table? I would love to hear them!