Dinner Time

Family Dinners:it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my childhood (may explain my deep love for food).  It was a rule at our house to be home in time for dinner, no excuses.  As a child I HATED having to leave the neighborhood tree house to go home for

“Is this corn hand-shucked?”

dinner.  As a teenager, I HATED having to leave my friends to go home.   But as soon as college hit, I could not WAIT to get home to a fresh cooked meal.  And as I’ve become more and more removed from my angst filled adolescent/teenage years, I find myself longing for those family dinners again, where we’d sit down to a homemade meal.

I think my mom is the biggest advocate out there for family dinners, and for good reason.  They helped keep us together as a family, and they helped keep us healthy.  There are many reasons to install family dinners in the home to be sure….But it’s hard!  As I try to start the tradition in my own home, I find how hard it is to keep on top of meal ideas,  to keep the pantry stocked of necessary ingredients, to find the time to cook, to find the SPACE to cook (think of the smallest countertop you’ve ever seen.  Half that.  And you’ll have an idea of how big my counter is….city living does have its cost) and perhaps the hardest of all, to make dishes, which bridge the gap between healthy but still tasty.  I admire of you out there who have learned how to do this. 

I’m a novice when it comes to family meal planning but I have found a few tricks that help make planning a bit easier:

  • Make a dinner calendar–   Whether paper or electronic, write it down.  (Paper template can be found here)  It’ll be one less thing your brain has to remember and figure out at the end of the day. A SMART PHONE WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND TO ACHIEVE THIS.  Create a calendar entitled “Dinner”.  Calendar in the meals you want to eat on the days you want to eat them.  In the “notes” section write ingredients you’ll need to buy.  Copy and paste recipes into the notes as well.  This also allows you to be flexible with your planning. If you run out of time for a meal one day, simply reschedule the dinner for another day.
  • Buy ingredients ahead of time–       Find a day that works well for you to go to the store and go, shopping list in hand which includes all the ingredients you’ll need for the week.  It’s easier to stay in line with your plan if you know you have ready ingredients at home. 
  • Don’t try to be a Julia Child–    Don’t overwhelm yourself with too complex a project.  Stick to the basics. Find recipes that work for you.  And then if you want, incorporate new dishes into your cooking repertoire.
  • Set an Attainable Goal–    Whether individual or a family goal, set a goal to eat together “x” amount of times a week.  Re-evaluate after a month of dinners.
  • Meatless Monday–      Don’t forget to eat meatless on Mondays! 
  • Blog/Write About it–     I love reading my friends’/family blogs about their experiences!  Love seeing their pictures, and reading their recipes. They are inspiring to me. You can be that inspiring as well.  Cooking a delicious, beautiful meal is fun. And it’s even more fun if you document it! 

Once the habits are formed and a routine is set, I hear it’s a lot easier to stay on track.  But these are a few steps I’ve found helpful in my efforts.  Good luck to us all!

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Meatless Mondays!

The topic of meat consumption has become as sensitive a topic as religion.  People don’t want to be told how much, how little, or what kind they should be eating.   And to each their own I suppose.  Man vs. Food constantly reminds me that this is America, the place where you can eat a 120oz steak if you want to. 

All I’m saying, is LESS IS MORE when it comes to meat.  If you, like me, are trying to wean your family off of daily regimen of meat consumption, it may be time to incorporate Meatless Monday into your menu.  Sounds exciting doesn’t it?!  Meatless Monday is just as it sounds, no explanation needed.  I’ve decided to institute Meatless Monday into my weekly menus after a series of events that lead me down a straight and narrow path right to this decision.

 

On Friday, I made my favorite soup for my husband (featured here) before jetting off to a girls weekend in Park City.  My husband suggested (borderline pleaded)  I add chicken to this meat-free recipe.  I considered it, but quickly snapped out of my meat infused coma and realized that we don’t have to eat meat for every. single. meal!!  So the soup kept it’s vegetarian integrity.  A few days later, I was at my sister-in-law’s house flipping through cookbooks.   I found a cookbook that introduced me to the idea of Meatless Monday, and even devoted an entire section to the idea!!  “What a great concept”, I thought to myself; one day a week, where I get to cook a hearty meal, without meat!

 

The last event on my Meatless Monday Path occurred today.  My conversion was complete as I read an articlein Time magazine about how the whiny, snot-nosed beef industry threw a good old fashioned tantrum over a USDA internal newsletter suggesting USDA employees try Meatless Monday during their cafeteria ventures.  To me the meat industry and their power grabs are more annoying, whiny, and slimy than a 1960’s politician.  Their whine fired up my stubbornness and left me more devout than ever to incorporate

Vegetarian Lasagna

Meatless Monday into my home.

Meatless Chili

It’s becoming a nationwide craze.  Thousands of  cafeterias, schools, and businesses are promoting one meatless day a week.  There are many different motives in promoting Meatless Monday. Whether you’re a health nut and believe it’s good to give the digestive system a break from breaking down proteins for a day; whether you’re environmentally aware and believe it decreases our carbon footprint to eat less meat; whether you’re stubborn and are just sick of the meat industry; or whether you’re a combination of all or none of these things, try Meatless Mondays.

Meatless Enchiladas

Upon further recollection, I realized, I don’t love being on a set schedule.  And in all seriousness if I feel like honey glazed salmon on Monday, I’m going to eat it, knowing that there will be another day in the week I will not eat meat.  The overarching idea behind Meatless Monday, is to moderate your meat consumption.  Simple as that.

 

***Disclaimer: Stop reading now, unless you are prepared to hear my continued meat industry rantings. ****

 

The beef industry doesn’t take lightly to the discouragement of meat consumption.  Midwest state senators do not take lightly to the discouragement of meat consumption.  Meat lobbyists do not take lightly to the discouragement of meat consumption.   This creates a powerful trifecta, which creates a meat economy that is no more organic than the meat it produces!  Meat consumption has gone down 12% since 2007.  Rather than letting the economy do its thing and adjust naturally, Daddy Government is now set up to issue subsididies for livestock feed, buy up unsold meat only to throw it away, and close one eye toward the sanitation of animal living conditions and processing plants which process America’s grocery store beef.

Senator Grassley, a Senator from Iowa, responded to the USDA newletter outcry with the following Twit…Tweet…whatever it’s called:

I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday

Another reason why I will eat LESS meat on meatless Monday.