Have your favorite restaurant delivery service on speed dial! Not really. While that would work to get dinner on the table, I’m not sure that take-out is going to be budget friendly long term. Also, it may not be the healthiest choice. So, what’s the key? Ten Ingredients or Fewer. That’s my motto. No, I’m not kidding. Just ask my husband. He emails me recipes all the time and unless they have 10 ingredients or fewer, they don’t make the cut. For the record, I don’t refuse to make a recipe if it has eleven ingredients but I try to ensure that the prep is simpler on those recipes that may contain more ingredients.
Seriously, my eyes start to glaze over after five or six…I share this because it has been one of, if not THE major factor behind my ability to get dinner (and a healthy one, at that) on the table most nights of the week.
Recipes to Eat
I had a client years ago who had an entire room lined from floor to ceiling with bookshelves full of cookbooks and cooking magazines- none of which were ever used. Every time we worked in that room, the shelves were off-limits for letting go. She did cook, can and bake but all the recipes she used were in her kitchen where they could be easily accessed.
That is when I came to the realization there are recipes we want to eat, be inspired by or dream about and those we are actually going to make for dinner. This idea became the difference in the size of my recipe collection, curbed unnecessary future cookbook purchases and enabled me to not mind cooking so much. I won’t go so far as to say I love it…but I don’t dread it and I might actually look forward to my evening ritual.
Collect Recipes To Make
Almost immediately, I stopped collecting recipes that I had no desire to make. And, if I was going to be able to get dinner on the table most nights, I want:
- The list of ingredients to be short- my goal is actually 5 but most recipes I make have between 5-10 ingredients
the prep to be simple
- Flavor & variety- My husband is the type who ate the same thing for breakfast everyday for 10 years. Gag me with a fork! I once bought a bulk box of granola bars when I was young and single…I couldn’t look at a granola bar for years after that.
- Use a limited amount of processed food, if at all
- Low-carb (not because of any specific low-carb diet, but simply for the fact that we have no problem consuming the recommended daily allowance of carbohydrates and then some. I knew that we could deliberately not include it in dinner and still consume more than we needed. So, I wanted to focus my energy on prepping the other nutrients we were not eating enough of.)
- Toddler-friendly, when possible- I don’t go overboard catering to a picky toddler but it certainly makes dinnertime less stressful and prevents me from getting frustrated that I went through the effort for nothing.
- Budget is definitely a consideration but since we eat out and order in less, we’re ok with spending more to enjoy quality dinners.
What’s Your Cooking Criteria?
Would you like to get dinner on the table most nights of the week? Be more prepared and less stressed? Eat healthier? Spend less on fast food?
If you’ve inherited the role of family chef, figure out the factors that will make things as simple as possible for you…and then pare it back even further. Take a moment to get out a notepad and write it down. Make sure to consider food restrictions and preferences.
Let us know what’s on your checklist in the comments!
Ciao for now!