THE KEY TO CONSISTENT DINNERTIME AT HOME IS MEAL PLANNING!!! The hardest part of planning any meal is figuring out what to have. If you wait until the end of the day, it is too late. You're gonna be too stressed at that point to even decide, let alone shop for ingredients and prepare the meal. Then it is too easy to just buy processed, packaged foods, or pick up some fast food or give up and just go out. None of these options work well day after day, week after week, as having the family sit down together over a meal prepared at home. That's where my meal planning comes in.
How do I do my meal planning? I devised "theme nights" as a place to start, and I have been planning meals around these themes for over 30 yrs. Those of you who own my books know my theme nights well!! In my family, these are our themes:
MONDAY: COMFORT FOOD
TUESDAY: ITALIAN NIGHT
WEDNESDAY: FISH & MEATLESS
THURSDAY: MEXICAN NIGHT
FRIDAY: PIZZA NIGHT
SATURDAY: GRILL NIGHT
SUNDAY: FAMILY TRADTIONS
These theme nights make it easy to carry out and will keep you consistent in having dinner together as a family. You can pick ANY themes you like! You don't have to choose the ones I have......pick what works for your family! These just gave us an amazing variety and were kid friendly. The themes make dinnertime more fun for your kids!
I MUST EMPHASIZE THAT "THEME NIGHT" DOES NOT MEAN HAVING A "PARTY" EVERY NIGHT AT DINNER. The nights "theme" is merely the starting point for deciding what to have for dinner. If you have my books, you just turn to the chapter and choose a recipe. I rarely carried the theme any further than that! No special centerpiece. No theme music. No party hats.
Still, my children always looked forward to our theme nights. The greatest part was that whoever was showing up for dinner that night, they knew at the end of a hard day there would be dinner on the table.
This plan will get Dad and/or Mom home on time from work, and get kids helping in the kitchen. If parents are working outside the home, then teenagers can get the meal started before they get home. Younger children can help set the table and encourage other family members to be home for dinner. This will BOND your family and create the atmosphere that we ALL want in our homes!
Using theme nights makes menu planning sooooo easy! If you have my books, all you do is go to the chapter for the night you're planning, and choose. There are more than a dozen recipes for each theme in both books, so its not as if every Tuesday, which is Italian night, is going to be the same lasagna. Plus, there are chapters of salads, breads, side dishes, and desserts, so you can mix and match to your heart's content.
THIS IS THE FOUNDATION FOR ANYONE TO PUT DINNER ON THE TABLE AT LEAST 5 NIGHTS A WEEK. I say five nights a week because you will want to give yourself and your family one or two nights a week "off". After all, we all love to eat out at our favorite restaurants from time to time!! But I give you all seven days themes in case you need them!
I PROMISE THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, IF YOU GIVE MY MEAL PLANNING A TRY!! Its all about planning and consistency. You think this is going to add work and its NOT. It is liberating!!!!
The Food Nanny