If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know I love to cook – and I think everybody would do well to learn as much about it as possible.
But for most people, “learn to cook” is an incredibly daunting task. It’s also too large to process all at once.
So I have a different way to think about your evening meal planning. Forget about “learning to cook”, and focus on something simple.
A Dozen Recipes
A dozen, as in twelve. If you’re a baker you could make it thirteen, but twelve is all you need. For our purposes, there are a few pretty simple rules for something to qualify as a recipe.
It has to be something you actually prepare in some way, shape, or form. Baking a frozen lasagna doesn’t count. Neither does a peanut butter sandwich.
It has to be something you’d serve as a dinner meal, or as a main course. It’s great if you know how to make an apple pie, but unless you’re planning to put the apple pie out as a main course it doesn’t count for our purposes.
It has to be something you’re willing to eat. If you know how to make tacos, but you don’t like tacos and the rest of your family won’t eat them, that doesn’t count for our purposes.
It has to be something you’re able to prepare on an average day. Most people I know have a few extra-complicated recipes that they haul out for special occasions. Personally, I have a pizza recipe where the dough takes three hours to make. That doesn’t work for this purpose, since we’re looking for recipes you could prepare for an average evening meal.
We’re leaving nutrition completely out of the equation here, and that’s intentional (other than the apple pie – I really don’t think that’s a good idea!). As mentioned in a previous post, most anything you make at home is healthier than most anything you’re going to get at the average restaurant.
This means that noodles with pasta sauce counts as a recipe. Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup would qualify as a recipe too. Burgers and fries count, as long as you’re cooking them in your own oven.
In fact, some of the quick-fix convenience foods and slow-cooker recipes you came up with (if you did your homework for the last couple posts) will contribute toward the dozen recipes.
Why A Dozen?
There are seven days in a week, and three meals in a day. Two of those meals aren’t usually an issue. Most people either don’t eat breakfast, or eat something predictable (cereal, oatmeal, etc.). Lunch is frequently a packed lunch (for people who work outside the home), or leftovers from dinner.
More importantly, my experience is that neither breakfast nor lunch inspire the “let’s go out to eat!” sentiment nearly as much as dinner does. That’s where the battle is, so that’s where we’re focusing.
If you have a dozen “go-to” recipes, you can eat for almost two weeks without having the same thing twice.
Dealing With The Most Common Objection
When I mention the idea of having a dozen or so recipes in rotation, the most common objection is “you mean I have to eat the same things all the time?” Let’s talk about that for a second.
First, if you’re like most people, you already eat the same things all the time. I can go to McDonald’s and pick up food for half a dozen of my friends and family without even asking them what they want – because they get the same thing, every time they go. The only variety comes by switching restaurants, and most people have less than a dozen of those that they go to.
Second, I’m not suggesting that you don’t ever have variety. What I’m doing is laying out a method for you to get a handle on meal planning. We’ll build variety in as we go – I promise!
We’ll be talking about how to come up with your dozen recipes in the next post, as well as how to add variety to your meal plan without throwing your planning into a tailspin – stay tuned!
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