Potato Hash with Spinach and Eggs (I know I served a side dish, but I don't remember now. Salad?)
Butternut Squash Soup with Shrimp. This was so good. The kids didn't eat it but I LOVED it and so did Pete. It was a bit too spicy for them. Plus, they don't get excited by shrimp. I understand.
These are all from about 2 weeks ago. When I started doing this meal planning I needed to rest my brain and limit my options. This meant not over-researching, too. I have a lot of cookbooks, and then there's the whole internet. So, for these first 3 weeks I decided I would only look at my old Everyday Food magazines from the month of October. It was a great way to start—they are easy to cook from, Pete has made a lot of them, and they are really easy to flip through. I just now branched out this week and added recipes from 101 cookbooks. I also started looking for specific recipes, like something using lentils and another using ricotta. I'm almost acting as if I have never cooked before and it's making this so much easier. The girls have liked a lot of these dishes, and also are happy to be exposed to so many new foods. If they don't eat much, they might make themselves peanut butter toast or eggs later, and that's fine. I just feel much better having new dishes on the table.
We have spent less money on food by planning for the week in advance. I make the dish for 4, even though there are 5 of us, they aren't big eaters and then I don't get stressed about too many leftovers. So far, I like one soup, pasta, and fish dish a week. I also have one night open, usually Friday, for random leftovers that might have stuck around. The soups I usually make on Sunday. I have really settled into this. I still sometimes fight it and wonder if I should either not make the dish I have planed, or make a change, but I haven't skipped any so far, and have always been happy about that, even when we eat late and it seems no one is home.
I was just told about The Minimalist Baker, and of course have to go back and dig through Smitten Kitchen, but for now I am only branching out slowly. There's a lot of repetition in the Everyday Food issues (And they are very meat heavy. We aren't vegetarian, but close.) so it will be good to look at these sites soon.
Thanks for all your suggestions and feedback about your meal planning or your plans to do meal planning. It's been a big deal for me because I realized I felt like I was just reacting to daily life. I have for a while now, since spring really. (Um, hello hormones and being 43.) I just couldn't really plan, keep up, or even make many advance decisions. I thought I was being in the moment, but I felt pretty shaky and not able to get centered enough to sit still and make a plan. Getting into a groove with this meal planning has done a lot for my brain space and confidence. I can't control life, but I can make these decisions that make me feel like I am not reacting, but more like I am participating. And I enjoy buying fancy cheese again.