When I say this post comes to you by popular demand, I don't want you to think I'm being full of myself or having delusions of grandeur or anything. Have a look for yourself at some comments from a few of my cre8buzz friends:

Any good kitchen tips for me? (Shauna)

So, if you are a wonder in the kitchen, does that mean you will be posting recipes for all of us to drool over? (heffalump)

Share some of your wonders with us! (novembrance)

What's your favorite thing to cook? (wornoutwoman)

Yes, yes, share your culinary wonders! (lis)

I'm a wonder in the kitchen too--but more of the "I wonder what mom will make us eat tonight." (kilpack)

Are you reading what I am reading? That these here women, they want some ideas. Some inspiration. Some new goodness for themselves and their families from the kitchen.

This is probably the most common struggle I find with all of the women I meet (in my highly scientific estimation). More common than husband complaints or bragging on their children. More common than the myriad details of our lives is the commonality that if we care for any human beings (ourselves included) we have to feed them multiple times a day. Every. Single. Day. In my 36 years I have made a lot of meals.

If you are just overwhelmed every damn time you have to come up with another f-ing meal, here is my big fat plan for solution.

Make A Weekly Meal Plan. (Thank you to Helen Jane.) When making the plan, come up with a pattern that works for your family. Perhaps it will consist of one beef dinner, one chicken, one pasta, one fish, one ethnic meal, one leftovers night and one night out. Ta da! Done. Then fill out the formula with sides and supporting players like one carbohydrate, two veggies and one salad. Or on pasta night create a bigger and more elaborate salad. And try making a homemade vinaigrette. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Does that make sense?

The real trick is to do what works for your family. If you know you have to serve chicken at least 2 nights, then by all means do! If a soup night makes your life easy - fabulous! Breakfast for dinner, recipes from grandma, brand new - something you've never tried before, no matter what you like it can work in this formula.

And when the detailed plan is written down then even our beloved husbands can help out in a pinch (like when my ob/gyn appt goes 1 hour late because some dumb baby is being born. Whatever). The hardest part of managing my husband in the kitchen is coming up with the ideas for him. I regularly get calls at 4:30 (he often gets off work before me) asking "What were you thinking we could do for dinner?" Honestly, I was thinking you could handle it. Weekly meal plan - problem solved!

Try it. I promise, it helps a busy family. Working outside the home or not.

Here is a sample week for my family -

MONDAY (chicken meal)
Chicken Adobo
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Pan Sauteed String Beans
Decaf Iced Tea with lemon

TUESDAY (pasta meal)
Sausage Tortellini
Red Sauce
Big Italian Salad
Crusty Bread
Milk or water

WEDNESDAY (ethnic meal)
Taco Night!
Taco Meat
Refried Beans
Taco Fixins (Kids helping with most of this)
Big Taco Salad (Avo, tomato, corn, salsa ranch dressing)
Lemonade or water

THURSDAY (leftovers night)
Leftovers - first come first choice
Possible breakfast for dinner if there aren't enough leftovers
(sometimes my husband and I take leftovers for lunches)
Milk or water

FRIDAY (take out night)
Pizza or Chinese takeout
Family Movie night at home
Diet soda or decaf iced tea

SATURDAY (fish meal)
Panko Coated Baked Fish
Lemon Vegetable Risotto (homemade or from box mix)
Steamed Broccoli and Asparagus
Mineral water with lime

SUNDAY (beef meal)
Pot Roast
Carrots and Potatoes
Green Salad
Milk or water

In the event that you need specific recipes, here are a few of my favorite sites:

The Joy Kitchen (This is The Joy of Cooking online. Heaven.)
All Recipes (They have an excellent ingredient search.)
Recipe Source (Great resource for ethnic menus.)

Saveur Magazine
Tastespotting (Links to beautiful food.)

OK, ladies. Let me know if this helps at all.


Luisa Perkins said...

Awesome post! I love it. I know I should meal plan. I know I should meal plan. I know I should meal plan. Maybe now I WILL.

And thanks for the linkage! You're the best.

Heffalump said...

I am a big fan of meal planning. I actually have a ton of meals I can make, but eventually things seem stale and I am always looking for new ideas. Another tip for that is to write down all the meals in your arsenal. Sometimes I can't think of anything to make, then I open up my notebook that lists all the things I make well, and realize how many things I have forgotten about. Every so often we go through some recipes and decide on new ones we want to try, and of course, recipes tested and recommended by others are always GREAT! Thanks for the link, and the recipes you linked to as well.

Josi said...

This is awesome. I have actually been doing better since school started--and I've given my kids one night a week which will pay off in a few years when they can actually cook something by themselves! You're truly a wonder-woman, thanks for the linkage :-) and the great ideas. Nothing crummy about ya

Josi said...

How did I miss Chicken Adobo on the first read? My hubby was in the Phillipines for two years and we LOVE adobo, but he always wants potatoes and I've never found a recipe that actually has the potatoes in it. You're awesome.

Masarup (spelled wrong, I'm sure, but I'm trying to say delicious) Sweeeeet. He's gunna be a happy man.

CableGirl said...

Hey, thanks for this post. I find myself stuggling each week with the shopping and determining what I'll make for dinner on any given night. This week I will write up a meal plan. Hopefully it will start me off in the right direction. I'm a pretty darned good cook (yeah, I know the modesty is overwhelming) but I just don't have the organizational skills necessary.

Momo Fali said...

Making a meal plan is the best time saver I've ever utilized! It makes shopping easier and making dinner isn't such a disaster. Our meals are healthier now too.

Nesting Momma said...

I love this . Thank you. I was meal planning but fell off the wagon...I need to get back to it. Thanks for sharing the details.

Annette Lyon said...

I am so trying that Chicken Abobo recipe!

Erica said...

Yea! I'm so glad! Thanks for giving it a try if you haven't already and for supporting it if you currently live by the meal plan!

TZT said...

This might be one of the most useful blog posts I have ever read. Thank you! (I also have images of delicious salads dancing in my head from the post above.)

Your children are gorgeous, btw.

Erica said...

Many thanks to you! My head is a little swolen right about now...

Lis said...

Great post. Meal planning is such a simple but really great idea. Thanks!