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Making it Easier to Figure Out What to Cook! 

Aug 07, 2023 08:26AM ● By Debra Caffrey

I think most folks would agree that one of the responsibilities of adulthood that can be the most strangely overwhelming is figuring out what to make for dinner. No matter how many times you perform this task, it never stops! Even though I love to cook and generally am thinking about it most of the time, I still feel this way too. It can be daunting to be the one responsible for feeding everyone every single day for eternity, but with a few strategies and mindset tweaks, it doesn’t have to! Here are some tips to make getting dinner on the table less of a struggle.

Meal Plan for a Longer Stretch of Time. It may sound counterintuitive to make your meal planning session longer if you’re already struggling, but I promise that front-loading your time like that will help in the long run. If you’re used to coming up with dinner ideas on the fly, commit to planning for a week. Once you can handle that, try for longer stretches, even if you break up the shopping for it. Once the meals are in place, you don’t have to think about what you’re making that entire time. It’s a very liberating feeling!

Get Resourceful. If you struggle to think of meal ideas, you don’t have to go at it alone! One of my favorite resources are the great cookbooks in the library. Ditto for spending a quiet afternoon in a bookstore. Start following fun recipe Instagram pages and bookmark ideas you like during the week. There are also plenty of Facebook recipe-sharing groups to borrow ideas from.

Involve Family Members. Even if you are the designated cook of the house, that doesn’t mean your family can’t help with the process. Invite your spouse and kids to come up with ideas too and share the load by having them take a turn cooking regularly.

Don’t Wait to Think! One of my biggest pieces of advice is to constantly have your little meal-planning thinking cap on all week long and not just when you sit down to actually officially do it. Throughout the week, be mindful of when meal ideas may come to you, even if it’s just something as simple as, “Oh, I’d like to have asparagus soon,” or “I could go for taco night!” Jot these ideas down and bookmark recipes you see along the way and when you go to meal plan “for real,” you’ll already have a starting point to work from. Finally, don’t overcomplicate things! We don’t have to serve gourmet meals every single night! Life, especially in the kitchen, is all about balance. It’s OK to give your kids boxed macaroni and cheese with some carrot sticks for dinner sometimes! Maybe that means more of an effort the next night. What matters most is togetherness and communion around the dinner table, no matter what’s on the plate!

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