Friends, I am successfully averaging 6 home-cooked dinners a week! Up from my previous average of 4. I'm on about a 3-4 week rotation of recipes, so I'm always up for new ideas.
Hubby and I noticed that we feel healthier when we eat in, and after our weekly date night meal, as nice as it is to avoid meal prep and dishwashing, we nearly always have a touch of indigestion. I am philosophically against weighing myself often, but my pants are looser.
My attitude towards cooking tasks is also better now that I'm seeing the health and budget benefits. When I'm making a familiar recipe, it's almost meditative. Yes, I'd rather have a massage, but sometimes relative peace and quiet is good enough.
I don't know if anyone else could have used homemaking instructions, but I sure could have! Here's what's been working for me. Hubby is the cornerstone of the strategy, so when he's on business trips or when we have Lil Sib, I'm sure I'll need a new battle plan.
1. We have a new rule, when I'm cooking, Hubby and Nugget must be out of the room with the door shut and child-locked. Doggie stays in the kitchen with me and helps me clean up dropped food. It's really made a difference in everyone's stress level - I don't have to stress about the Nugget grabbing a hot pan, Doggie gets some toddler-free time with her clumsy Alpha who usually drops cheese shreds, and Hubby and Nugget get their man-to-man time without mother hen interrupting the couch jumping or whatever goes on in there. Not being able to step in has helped me reduce the gatekeeping and made Hubby much more confident with his parenting as well. God help me, sometimes I'm such the controlling micromanager I swore I wouldn't be! Gah!
2. My favorite tool that's really upped our veggie consumption over the last year has been this gem. Steamed veggies in 5-10 minutes flat! No boiling water, no extra burner in use.
3. I got a plethora of free calendars for Christmas this year, and am keeping one in the kitchen for the meal planning. I list the meals I plan to make (there's a lot of crossing out and switching depending on my food cravings that day) on each day and also add notes like, "Thaw chicken" or "Soak beans" if there's something that needs to happen for the next day's meal.
4. I try to prep what I can during naptime. It doesn't always work because some recipes just need to be created immediately before serving, but today I peeled and chopped some carrots, washed and dried dishes to maximize the counter space, filtered some water, and set out the pans and non-perishable ingredients I'll need to make the tacos.
5. I do our shopping on Saturday afternoons, leaving Hubby with a napping Nugget. I try to use the same store each time so I have the aisle down pat. I keep a list throughout the week and then rewrite it by store aisle to reduce the "double-backs". My current favorite store is Super Target since it has a combination of decent pricing, non-grocery items, clean restrooms, and several snack stations (you can't buy groceries on an empty stomach, dontcha know?!).
Please leave your own tips and recipes in the comments!