The Foods

DISCLAIMER: This is a long, drawn out post about meal planning. If that's not really your scene, you could probably skip this one. To be honest, it's not really my scene either.

You may have noticed my new Dinner tab on the right hand side.

It's full of . . . dinners.

The timing of my creation of said tab coordinated perfectly with a Facebook status message my friend Karli made, pondering about how her newlywed friends do "fancy dinners" on a student budget.

Well, I am a newlywed. And I am a friend. And I do dinners. I'm not a brilliant cook, but I'm getting better, and I'm quite decent at the planning bit. So for the benefit of the general masses, let me share my newlywed dinner secrets. These are very similar to my single-lady dinner habits, but slightly more organized and expansive.

Every week, on Sunday or Monday afternoon, I sit down with my handy-dandy dinner menu.
I printed out like 20 of these menus and stuck 'em on my fridge so I can just snag a fresh one for each new week. After grabbing a menu, I spend the next hour researching meals. As you will read in my Dinner tab, I'm somewhat selective about my recipes.

If I know of a website that consistently has good recipes, I'll browse the blog and pick a couple items. My very favorite recipes are often found on blogs of trusted friends, or from  the highest-rated recipes on Sometimes I'll do a week entirely from one of the many great cookbooks or cooking magazines we inherited when we got married.

Once I have a solid foundation of meal options, I begin. I don't plan out our breakfasts or lunches, but I do plan out about 5 dinners a week. Usually we get fed by family on Sunday, and I account for one other day where we either eat out for date night, or I give up on life and we have tuna fish for dinner.

I write down the names of my meals in the bottom left corner of the menu sheet. I never actually plan out which specific days we'll have which specific dinners because on any given day I'll just pick whichever of the five meals sounds best.

After I write down the meals, I open up to each of the recipes and write down the ingredients we'll need in the bottom right corner of the menu page. Then, I add anything else we might need to the shopping list (eggs, bread, pickles, hot chocolate . . . ).

We go shopping at LoLo's every Monday or Tuesday. BEST GROCERY SHOPPING IN THE VALLEY. They have by far the best deals on produce and meat. If you're mostly buying bread and cereal and Poptarts, you can skip LoLo's. But if you live on a fresher diet, at least try it out for a week or two. It's so great.

When it comes down to actually making the meals, I don't really have any magic secrets for you. I'm not a wizard in the kitchen. My meals aren't always even super great. But occasionally they are. These ones go on the "Success Stories" board on my Pinterest page. The ones that are the best recipes ever will get added to the Dinners tab and become immortalized.

And those are my dinner tricks. I'm fairly certain I have a reader or two out there who are legit chefs. What are your cooking tricks?

1 comment

  1. Thank you, Laura, for this splendid advice. And I will definitely have to check out LoLo's. :)

    P.S. We also have a $200/month or $50/week grocery budget. But that can include anything we buy at the grocery store, even if it's not food.



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