What’s for Dinner?

What’s for Dinner?

Let’s talk menu planning! It’s so fun and exciting! You remember when I said that we have boring times, too, right? This is one of them. But seriously, menu planning is a lifesaver. A while back, I messaged a very large group of my friends and asked them what their dinner staples were. We were getting to the point where we were eating the same foods over and over again:

I got some interesting feedback from my friends. Many of them seemed to have weeks like mine, but a few of them had menus that they followed and rotated through. I wanted to be like those people.

One night, over dinner of Hank-safe chicken nuggets (see recipe here), I took out a notebook and as a family, we wrote down everything that we eat for dinner that we like. The list was short, about 10 items. So we started another list, foods that we had not tried before as a family but wanted to. This was the first step and we all felt super good about it.

The next step was to make a list of the days of the week and what we were doing for meals. Then came the list of the ingredients needed and what of that we already had in our larder or freezer. I know that this all feels very basic, but again and in our defense, we weren’t the only family living life this way. We were basically learning how to effectively feed ourselves. We’re adulting on a C- grade level here, folks.

Our list has slowly been increasing. From 10 staples to 24 in about six months. This is not a bad start. Someday, we hope to have a list that allows the love of food to come out a little more in all of us. Not to mention enough options that those of us without allergies won’t get bored of and therefore stop wanting to cook (it’s me, I’m talking about me).

I spend many hours searching for new recipes that I can Frankenstein into Hank-safe dinners. I have a Pinterest board labeled “Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom” and another named, plainly “Instant Pot.” I can’t do it all, but I’ll try, even if the final taste is nothing like what the original chef intended.

Starting menu planning also has another awesome outcome: Saving Money. Yes, I used everything in my basic Word Doc arsenal so that it would look fancy. We have about 5 restaurants that we can safely eat at and two of them, Hank is forced plain rice. So, really – three. But a dinner for the four of us, with Hank’s being a series of sides and specialty cooked items, gets very expensive. $40 – $70 an evening seriously adds up. Not to mention that occasionally, we have to remove a restaurant as they change safe recipes or plate an allergen. It all becomes too much.

So, with extra money in our pockets and food made from our kitchen, we’re adulting near a B+ grade level.

Leave your favorite make at home dinners in the comments below, maybe together we can all be menu planners!

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