• Dominate Dinner,  Holidays

    Meal Planning through Thanksgiving

    It’s Thanksgiving week!! For those of us who love to cook and entertain, it’s like our Super Bowl! And at the same time – for those of us who like to operate with a meal plan, it can feel like we’re drowning without our structure and routine! Meal planning through the Thanksgiving holiday can certainly feel like the wheels have fallen off! Between travel, all that cooking for the big day, and then the mountains of leftovers, it’s easy to feel like you’re out of control of your dinnertime – but fear not! Here are a few tips to help get you (and me!) through this week! Plan to not…

  • Dominate Dinner,  Food,  Holidays

    5 Simple Tips to Dominate Thanksgiving Dinner!

    Hosting Thanksgiving is exciting for some, and stressful for others. I’ve found that the key to keeping it low-stress (regardless of the size of the gathering or how many dishes you’re preparing), is having a plan! Doing the things that can be done ahead of time prior to Thanksgiving day will go a long way towards lightening the load! Here are my 5 tips to help you dominate Thanksgiving dinner! Tip 1 – Decide What Kind of Gathering You’ll Host– Size: Small and intimate or large and feisty?– How Formal: Will you be eating on paper plates or the special China?– Who’s Cooking: Is it a pot-luck or are you…

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    The #1 Meal Planning Mistake

    Implementing a weekly meal planning routine has the potential to save you tons of time, reduce your stress and anxiety around cooking, and make family dinners an achievable goal. But sometimes, your meal plan is a bust and you’re left feeling just as overwhelmed as before. I think the culprit to most meal planning flops is that people try to do too much. When folks approach meal planning with the notion that they need to cook every night and find all new recipes, it can quickly turn into a recipe for disappointment. Being all extra right out of the gate is the #1 meal planning mistake. And coming from a…

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    Tip #10 – Get Your Recipes Printed

    Recipes that are printed out are so much easier to follow! The internet is a great place for recipes, but once you find a good one – print it! Cooking with a printed recipe means no more phone or iPad going to sleep in the middle of the food prep! No more scrolling through a ridiculously long blog post and dealing with pop-up ads trying to get to your recipe! No more touching your device with messy hands! And recipes are easier to read since the font is typically bigger on the printed version. Keep all your print outs alphabetized in a 3 ring binder. You’ll thank yourself, promise.

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    Tip #9 – Get a Backup Plan

    Having a backup meal available when your original plan falls through is super helpful. I try to pick something that can be made in 15-20 minutes, and uses ingredients that can hold for at least a few weeks. Some of my favorites are flat bread pizzas (naan bread, marinara, mozzarella cheese and whatever meats or veggies I have handy), breakfast for dinner (eggs, grits, oatmeal, bacon, pancakes, omelets or breakfast sandwiches), or soup and grilled cheese (I keep boxes of organic tomato soup, and always have bread and cheese around). This way, if I either run out of time to make my original meal, or forgot to defrost my meat,…

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    Tip #8 – Get Your Groceries Once a Week

    Perhaps one of my biggest time savers is this tip. If you have a meal plan, you can make the switch to grocery shop once a week. Having groceries on hand has been the single most improvement noted by the folks who have been using my process. Knowing what you’re going to cook and having everything you need already in your kitchen removes so many of the hurdles to cooking. It means when it’s time to cook dinner, you can literally just cook dinner. Not try to think about what to cook… not have to run to the store real quick… just cook. Pick a day that works best with…

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    Tip #7 – Get Your Meal Plan Published

    I’ve found that simply writing my meal plan in a notebook or on my planning template isn’t always enough to ensure it actually gets executed! But what does work is publishing it in a prominent place where both me and my family can easily see the plan. There are a couple of reasons I think this makes a difference: it creates accountability to actually stick to the plan, it serves as a visual reminder of the plan, it keeps the family all on the same page, and it reinforces the importance of family dinners. Have your weekly calendar start with the first day of your meal plan. I add my…

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    Tip #6 – Get a Meal Plan

    I know what some of you may be thinking – “meal planning isn’t for me”, or “I’m not a planner”. Hear me out. Unless you have limitless free time, can go to the store whenever you’d like, and don’t have activities impeding on your dinnertime, then you need to give your meals some forethought. It’s just the reality of this stage of life. One time a week, set aside 30 minutes (may be a little more at first, but it will get easier once you get in the groove) to take a look at your week ahead, consider what you have going on during dinnertime hours, decide what your dinner…

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    Tip #5 – Get Your Kitchen Stocked

    You ever get in the mood to just throw some dinner together? Then you head to the fridge and realize [shocker], you’re missing an ingredient (or four)! Not having staple ingredients on hand is so frustrating! And while I’m a big fan of already knowing what you’re going to make for dinner (and making sure you’ve got those ingredients), life happens, and it is so much less stressful when you’re prepared to be flexible! I’ve found coming up with a list of kitchen staples, and then making sure you never run out, is so helpful! Some of my essentials include: lemons, eggs, chicken stock, beef stock, garlic, onions, carrots, celery,…

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    Tip #4 – Get the Right Tools

    Having the right kitchen tools (and enough of them) can make all difference in your cooking experience! Sometimes it’s an appliance that can completely change the way you cook (like my Instant Pot!!).  Sometimes it’s as simple as having enough measuring spoons, measuring cups, cutting boards and chef knives. Having multiples of these items can end the frustration of having to stop in the middle of cooking so you can hand wash something you need. Think about the items that you may be lacking – or times you sigh from frustration because you don’t have enough. Make a plan to purchase those things! Keep in mind that if you’re switching…