What’s for Dinner Mum? – By Sherry Nassif


Cooking, depending on your inclination, can be a pleasure or a chore. But one thing that both the keen and the reluctant cook have in common is the age old question of ‘What’s for dinner Mum?’

For me cooking isn’t so bad, but trying to think of meals for my family that were varied, nutritious, they liked and were easy for me, was a headache.

I found we were having the same meals, the same salads all the time. The family was bored of eating them and I was bored of cooking them.

I eventually developed a system that I found to be simple, effective and cost saving too which I’d like to share with you.

First of all you need to spend a little time. The time you spend preparing will pay off.

So set aside a couple of hours, get your cookery books out, a nice cup of tea, paper and pencil or work on your lap top straight away.

First of all write down all the meals that your family like to eat.

For my family it’s a lunch – that’s the main meal, and a light supper.

So, my list was something like:

Lunch                                                                                    Supper                

Spaghetti Bolognaise                                                               Frittata

Quiche                                                                                         Pizza

Chili Con Carne                                                                         Loaded Nachos

Beef Stroganoff                                                                         Chicken Wraps

Curry                                                                                           Soup and Sandwich

Lasagna                                                                                      Grilled Halloumi Cheese

Oven Baked Fish                                                                      Greek Salad

 

And so forth until you have all the meals that your family like to eat.

Then make a table, one for each week for four weeks and print them out. Start to pencil in these dishes in the columns. It’s much easier to see the balance when you have all the weeks in front of you. So, I was aiming for a chicken dish, a pasta dish and a fish dish each week.

 

Week 1:

Lunch Side Dishes Supper Desserts
Sunday Spaghetti Bolognaise Soup and Sandwich
Monday Chicken Curry Frittata
Tuesday
Wednesday Baked Fish Loaded Nachos
Thursday
Friday Chili Con Carne Chicken Wraps
Saturday

 

Next I wrote down the accompaniments for each dish. I tried to vary the salads and vegetables.

Week 1:

Lunch Side Dishes Supper Desserts
Sunday Spaghetti Bolognaise Parmesan Cheese Soup and Sandwich
Monday Chicken Curry Yogurt, Mint and Cucumber Frittata
Tuesday
Wednesday Baked Fish Brown RiceTomato, Basil and onion salad Loaded Nachos
Thursday
Friday Chili Con Carne White RiceMexican Salad Chicken Wraps
Saturday

 

Then I used my cookery books for ideas to fill in the blanks. While the recipes were new to me, I wrote the cookery book and the page number for reference.

I left one day each week free for either take away or a new recipe.

Week 1:

Lunch Side Dishes Supper Desserts
Sunday Spaghetti Bolognaise Parmesan Cheese Soup and Sandwich
Monday Chicken Curry Yogurt, Mint and Cucumber Frittata
Tuesday Moroccan Chicken(Good Housekeeping p 145) Date and Orange Salad Potato Skins
Wednesday Baked Fish Brown RiceTomato, Basil and onion salad Loaded Nachos
Thursday Oven Baked Chicken(Jamie Oliver p 221) New PotatoesGreen Beans Greek Salad
Friday Chili Con Carne White RiceMexican Salad Chicken Wraps
Saturday New Recipe or Takeaway Quiche

 

Then the last thing I added a few desserts per week.

Week 1:

Lunch Side Dishes Supper Desserts
Sunday Spaghetti Bolognaise Parmesan Cheese Soup and Sandwich Banoffee Pie
Monday Chicken Curry Yogurt, Mint and Cucumber Frittata
Tuesday Moroccan Chicken(Good Housekeeping p 145) CousCousDate and Orange Salad Potato Skins
Wednesday Baked Fish Brown RiceTomato, Basil and onion salad Loaded Nachos Ice Cream
Thursday Oven Baked Chicken(Jamie Oliver p 221) New PotatoesGreen Beans Greek Salad
Friday Chili Con Carne White RiceMexican Salad Chicken Wraps
Saturday New Recipe or Takeaway Quiche Chocolate Mousse

 

So, you will have ended up with four weeks of menus which you rotate through. Print out the pages and keep them in the kitchen.

My weekly shopping list is also now prepared.

I know what I am going to cook, and what I need to buy to cook it, so I only buy what I need. That saves money and time.

You know what you need and there are no impulses buys in the supermarket.

The advantage to this is you have all the ingredients for what you want to make already. So, you won’t find a lovely recipe for Moroccan Chicken and have everything except the Cous Cous.

You also won’t have the problem of broccoli rotting in your fridge because it wasn’t used.

Now this plan is not set in stone. Just because it’s Friday you don’t have to have Chili – you can have it any day of the week. And if I see some lovely fresh produce in the market I will get it and change the menu accordingly.

But this method definitely has saved me time and has taken away the mental anguish of trying to come up with an answer to the question ‘What’s for dinner Mum?’

It helped me, and I hope it will help you too.

Bon Appètit!

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