It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve bought the cookbooks and have the fancy tools. Even with meal planning, organized grocery lists, and a husband who takes on a meal or two every week, it’s like finals week every night dinner time rolls around. Somehow I have forgotten an ingredient or already burned the chicken just by looking at it.
You see, it’s simple really, I’m terrible at it, so I just don’t like it. Combine prep work, the cleanup, the dishes, the skill of knowing when something is actually cooked correctly, and don’t even get me started when someone doesn’t like something……. Put a fork in me, I’m done.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a personal chef, so I’m continually learning and getting better at preparing three healthy, square meals for my family that didn’t come from a box. Here’s how I deal:
Step 1: Get Over the Idea that it has to be Food Network-worthy
I think my biggest challenge was thinking (for absolutely no reason) that I had to come up with these gourmet, three-course meals every night. I don’t, and you don’t. I don’t even think my family knows what dessert is. As long as it has some veggies and a little protein, I call it good.
Step 2: Become Best Friends with your Crockpot
Although I am getting better, I naturally just am not that great at cooking. Working all day and coming home to a hangry family is not a good environment to improve my skills either. Enter the crockpot. You can make anything in a crockpot. And I mean anything. From appetizers to desserts, there’s a recipe. Just search Pinterest. This sundried tomato chicken recipe or this beef ragu recipe are two of my favorites.
Step 3: It’s Ok to Serve Something Every Day for a Week
When it comes to fruits, veggies, and other sides, I tend to make a batch all at once, and those are the sides for at least half of the week. Take, for example, veggies. At the grocery store, I pick whatever is in season, and that’s what we eat for the week. Now that it’s winter, we eat a lot of roasted root veggies. I’ll roast a bunch of carrots, beets, parsnips, and sweet potatoes on Sunday and that will be our veggie servings for the good chunk of the week. It’s one less thing I have to think about when dinner time arrives. It’s already cooked and ready to go. If you’re family NEEDS variety, you could switch it up each time you reheat it. Add some parmesan or squirt some lemon on them to brighten their flavors.
Step 4: Come up with Family Staples
If they all are eating it and at least one person looks like they’re enjoying it, we’re having it again soon (like, probably next week). I also ask my family for their input when it comes to meal planning and trying new things. I keep a spreadsheet of things I know my family likes along with the recipe, and I just rotate through that list. This makes meal planning a breeze.
Step 5: Repeat Frequently (Like Next Week)
Once you come up with something that works for you and your family, repeat soon and often. Keeping track of meals served has seriously made my life so much easier. I don’t waste time searching online or through cookbooks for meals to make. I simply look at the week, look at my list, plug in our meals, and have an instant grocery list. I do usually set aside one day a week for a new recipe to find some new family favorites, but I usually attempt them on the weekends or when I have the free time to work on my skills.
Do you have any fast tips for cooking during the week?