Family Dinner: Turning A Chore Back Into A Hobby

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What’s for dinner?

This question can add stress to the end of a very long day.  And if you don’t have a great answer to that question, it can leave you feeling even worse.

I happen to enjoy cooking.  So when did this become such a chore?!  When I have the right ingredients on hand, putting a fabulous, healthy meal in front of my family gives me a boost and makes me feel good.  So I decided to make this, along with  the meal planning that goes with it, part of my routine.  It’s something I need to spend time on anyway.  Why not do this chore in a way that’s much more fun and enjoyable?  And if this can make the week run smoother, even better!

Every weekend, typically on a lazy Saturday morning before the activities of the day take over, I spend time with the latest edition of Cooking Light Magazine and some favorite cookbooks to plan my meals for the week.  As I pick out my recipes, I do 2 things:

1. Add the name of the dinner I’ve chosen into my Outlook calendar.  Or you can just write it into the family calendar on your wall.  It may seem a bit silly to write it into the calendar but once the busy week gets underway, you’d be amazed at how quickly you forget the great plan you made the weekend prior.

2. Capture all of the ingredients in OneNote.  I’ve got a shopping list page in a OneNote notebook that I share with my husband (more on that later).  Over time, I’ve organized this list to match the order that I roll through the store in.  I keep a lot of the typical items in the list like milk, eggs and apples so I remember to restock that stuff but it allows me to also remember the unique things for the recipes I’ve chosen.

From there, the plan is set and the weekend agenda can take over like it usually does.  Often getting the actual grocery shopping done can be tough in between all of the kids activities and time spent with friends.  This is where having the list in OneNote is super handy.

At the grocery store, if the list is long, my husband and I can divide and conquer.  We can both look at the list at the same time and check things off.  Since the list is ordered based on how I usually move through the store, he can start at one end while I start on the other.  We literally end up meeting in the middle.  Since I don’t have the ordering of my list perfect (yet), we both check items off the list on our phones and nothing is forgotten.

If you’re just getting started, this may feel like advanced organization.  But if you start with one meal or even just a basic shopping list, you’ll be amazed how over time, it gets easier and easier.  I’ve had random weekends where the meal planning just didn’t get done – and what a stressful week it was!

So turn cooking and meal planning back into the hobby you used to enjoy.  And reap the rewards through the rest of the week.

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