So today is backwards day over at We Are That Family!  For this week's Works for Me Wednesday, I get to present a dilemma and ask for everyone's advice.  This comes at a perfect time for me because one of my goals for April is...

To Actually Cook Dinner!!

I'm a decent cook, in that I'm capable of making things DangerBear will eat.  I just don't particularly enjoy cooking, and getting started is definitely the hardest part.

I have two questions for all of you:
  1. How do you make cooking more enjoyable?
  2. What are your tips to planning meals and actually following through with your plan?
Give me your best tips and tricks!  You can even give me your second-best tips and tricks!  I'll take anything, just help me out!  If I can actually make dinner consistently for the month of April, I'll turn cartwheels on the front lawn.

Okay, not really.  But I will do a little dance (inside, where the neighbors can't see).

Now for the giveaway part!

I am giving away two devotional journals.  The first is called "Closer to my Husband" and the second is called "Closer to God."  Here are some links in case you want to take a look at them:

To enter, leave a comment with your cooking/meal planning tips.  One winner will be chosen at random from all the comments.  The other winner will be the one who leaves my favorite tip.  You have one week to enter; I'll choose the winners from those who comment before Wednesday, April 8 at noon (Pacific time, let's say).  Make sure you're signed in or somehow leave me a way to contact you if you win.  =)

(I'm sorry, but I can only do the giveaway for those who live in the continental US.)

I'm really looking forward to hearing what you all have to say!

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18 Responses
  1. Kelly Says:

    Well, I love to cook (have since I was a little girl). I have a few tips that might help you:
    1. Look through cookbooks and find recipes that look good. I love making things that are pretty and colorful.
    2. Pick recipes that are quick and not too complicated. I love one pot meals because you don't have tons of dishes to do.
    3. Use your crockpot! I love putting chicken or chili in the crockpot in the morning and having it ready at suppertime.

    For meal planning, I look through the store sale flyers and make a menu depending on what's on sale. I usually plan 3 meals/week because we'll eat leftovers a couple nights. I do simple meals: some kind of meat (chicken breast, steak, hamburgers, etc), a vegetable or salad, and something starchy (rice, potatoes, rolls etc).

    Hope these ideas help! :)

  2. ~~tonya~~ Says:

    What I do to not spend as much time in the kitchen is when I do cook, I will usually double and sometimes triple the recipe. Eating one, freezing one leaves a future evening open.

  3. Angie Says:

    The way that I enjoy cooking a bit more is to think about how I am blessing my family by making them a meal, rather than just picking up something at a restaurant. Somehow, when I think of it as a blessing to them, rather than as a task, it makes it a lot easier to do.

    Good luck! (We're trying to eat in a lot more during April.)

  4. ~*Michelle*~ Says:

    I let everyone pick a favorite meal and include it in my meal plan for the week. I don't do anything special,....I just put the menu on the whiteboard on the fridge. :)

    I have been trying to double recipes of their favorites to save time.


  5. I just started grabbing recipes off of Menu Plan Monday posts...then try to make up about a month's worth of meal plans. I just have a hard time sticking to it because...well I posted about that today in my WFMW post.

  6. Megret Says:

    I make out a list of sales each week at my favorite grocery store. I base our meals off of the sales, buying extra if necessary to freeze for later.

    I block off seven sections on a plain piece of paper and write our our complete menu (down to bread & dessert if we have it) for each day that week. I put it on the fridge so I can see it and refer to it and STICK to it.

    To make cooking more enjoyable, I reserve TV time for the kids till I begin cooking so I can have uninterrupted cooking time...OR I invite them to help me. :)

    Hope this helps!

  7. Jerralea Says:

    I work at getting 28 different meals figured out. My first step is to ask everyone their favorite meals, also I pick some easy meals for church night, etc. When I finally come up with 28, I write each one on an index card. Now I have 4 weeks worth of meals, and I just rotate them.

    Another idea is to always have a certain day of the week be for certain meals:

    Well, you get the idea! Happy menu planning!

  8. Corrie Says:

    Having a crock pot is wonderful help. It is amazing to put stuff in it and leave it to do the other zillion things that must get done. It makes your house smell wonderful while it cooks.Check out this site for great ideas http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

  9. Summer Says:

    Hello and HAPPY WEDNESDAY!! :)

    Alright, now being that I graduated from culinary school, you would think I have some enlightened and amazing culinary tips, right? WRONG! LOL! Actually, I just plain LOVE to cook! So, here goes...

    1) When planning your meal, start with dessert! Desserts are always so much fun to make and always bring on the smiles around the dinner table....so, bake something extra special for your family.

    2) When you're cooking, pour yourself a glass of wine and sip on that while preparing everything. It just makes you feel like you're in Italy or France...and your family is relaxing on the veranda of your villa soaking up the Riviera sun...hehe...(I'm a dreamer, can you tell?)

    3) Always use garlic! hahaha...might sound funny...but, when I heat up a saute pan and throw in some garlic and onions, there is just no better smell in the world to me...yum! (your family may not like this, but it sure does make my tummy happy)

    4) Maybe once a week, make the table setting extra nice. Try adding colorful placemats, napkins, fresh flowers, etc. It will add a bit of fun and maybe open up family conversation a bit more.

    5) Try a themed dinner every now and then. Have a "Mexican Fiesta" food night, "Italian Elegance", "Night at the Ballpark" (and have hot dogs). Just have fun with it. You don't always have to go "all out" for dinner, but just making it fun can make all the difference. (email me and I could give you even more ideas and details!)

    6) Maybe, one day a week, each member of your family tells the others why they are special in their lives, or..something that they just love about the others, or something that they think is funny or silly.

    Dinner can be and should be so much more about time spent with your loved ones! Enjoy these precious moments and don't take one second for granted!

    Blessings and love,

  10. caroline Says:

    Before I go to the grocery store, I ask each family member what they'd like to have that week. Sometimes I honor the requests (but I really can't justify Mac N Cheese every week!). Usually when I shop, it's for more than one week too, so I usually get to the requests within a two week period.

    I like to start getting the kids ready for bed at 7 because they need to be up early for when we leave in the morning and kids need sleep. So that doesn't leave us much time between when we get home at 5. Enter in the crockpot. For a while, I was doing a crockpot dinner once a week and it was usually something that I'd have for leftovers so that would take care of two dinners a week.

    Another thing I had a lot of success with is having the kids help out. My kids are happy just dumping a box of cake mix into a bowl, or putting chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet. We're not talking about difficult tasks, but it does give us some bonding time.

    I don't like planning the meals out in detail for more than a few days at a time though because when I do, I end up not really feeling like chicken on the nights I'd planned chicken. So I usually have a few things I can pull from available so I can be flexible.

  11. Jenn Says:

    We basically eat about 20 different meals every month. Part of the week I meal plan and part of it we just eat breakfast for dinner or go out to eat. However, I just started using a website called Plan to Eat and I would say it is certainly making meal planning more enjoyable. Mostly because I can keep all of my recipes in it and the shopping list is automatically created from my meal plan. The website is www.plantoeat.com and I found it on another blog just a few weeks ago.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I have 2 small boys (under the age of 3) and have recently signed up at www.e-mealz.com It's $15 for 3 months/$1.25 a week (and has Dave Ramsey's stamp of approval). It lets you choose your grocery store (either reg., low-fat, vegetarian); makes a meal plan a week at a time; has a pre-made grocery list you just print out; and a week's worth of good, EASY, FAST, dinners for somewhere between $65 and $80 (depending on the meal plan you choose). It's been great and eliminates a LOT of hassle. You also know that you have all the ingredients! Super easy!


  13. wanda Says:

    I like to write out a menu each week (umm I don't always succeed at this). I do my shopping after checking out the pantry's ingredients. Then I switch back and forth with hard meals and easy every other night.
    My family's schedule is a big factor too. If we are running in different directions...it's an easy night. If we are all home....it's the big meal.

  14. Ashley Says:

    Here are some of my tips:

    1. I make the menu together with my husband so that I plan food that we are both in the mood for.

    2. I try my best to stick to the shopping list when at the store.

    3. I do not assign particular foods to particular days. Instead I make a list of all the lunches and dinners I have planned and we choose what we want to eat the day before so we can thaw any meat, if necessary. This helps me because sometimes I plan for specific foods on specific days and then I am not really feeling it.

    4. I think of cooking as a ministry serving my hubby.

    5. I get my husband to cook WITH ME as much as possible. This make it more fun and is also bonding time!

    Hopefully these tips help!


  15. Kate Says:

    Wow, some great info here! I'm really trying to be more consistent with cooking dinner, and your tips will definitely help! =)

  16. Anonymous Says:

    my way of sticking to the menu is to do my menu planning with my planner calendar in hand. I know how much time it takes to cook each meal so I plan according to what we have going on that night. If it's a night at home with a day at home as well then the meal is more elaborate. if it's a busy day then maybe a crockpot meal is best. if it's a busy evening, something quick to eat is called for. etc.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I am a new reader to your blog from South Korea. I have a sure hit recipe for you... Season a pork roast with Lawry's and cajun seasoning and pepper and other seasonings of your choice. Spray your crock pot with non stick spray. Put roast in crock and add some sliced onion and baby carrots if you have them. Cook on high about 5 or 6 hours or on low all day. DO NOT ADD WATER! Trust me! So delish!!!

    Lil (crazyseoulsister)

  18. Kate Says:

    Great ideas! The pork roast sounds tasty, Lil, and I definitely like using the crock pot. =)

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