Parent to Parent

What’s For Dinner? Try Going Meatless Once a Week

cooking family dinnerWhenever I get together with friends, particularly those with children, inevitably we end up talking about food. What’s good for you? What’s not-so-good for you? What’s on the latest recall list? What vegetables have we been able to sneak past our kids lately? (for me, none) And, more often lately, how to save money and still eat well. Are we obsessed with food?

Have you ever noticed, all the so-called “women’s magazines”, such as Parents, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, Women’s Day, etc. all tend to have food right on their covers? Right next to the latest in diet advice, just try to get through Shape or Fitness without checking out a recipe. Even my son’s Highlights for Children usually has a recipe for us to try together. Do you think we might be just a little obsessed with food?

So now I move on to food blogs, entire web sites devoted to making breakfast, lunch and too many to count just about dinner. Bread, salad, veggies and all variations of ethnic cooking all get their space here on the web. With all this information at our fingertips, why aren’t we all experts by now? Maybe you’re sitting around watching the Food Channel on TV?

Or maybe, like in all other areas of internet knowledge, there’s just too much to weed through. Obviously, not everything is going to go over very well in your own kitchen, even if Rachel Ray makes it look quick and easy-peasy. And yet, if you don’t go ahead and TRY something, you’ll never know if it’ll work in your house.

Take freezer cooking, for example. There are plenty of guides online to help out beginners, but the basic idea is to take one day a month and cook and freeze meals all day long. That way, you’ll be able to just pluck dinner out of the freezer, no major decisions on a Wednesday evening, and pop it in the oven. The trick is to plan meals your family likes, particularly since they will be repeated throughout the month, and ones that freeze well. It helps if you already own a large enough freezer, or you’re able to clean out your top freezer enough to make space. In addition to consolidating all your cooking time into one day, you also save money by buying your meats and other ingredients in bulk quantities. The Frugal Mom has a beginner’s guide, as well as some favorite starter recipes.

If freezer cooking doesn’t work for you, there are other means of saving money via meal planning at the Hillbilly Housewife . But all web sites pretty much seem to agree that planning ahead, before you go shopping, is the way to go. Of course, when you still don’t know what to cook, there’s always my personal favorite, If you subscribe to the newsletter, you get a week’s worth of menus with recipes before you plan your next shopping trip! Again, not all of the recipes are going to please every family, but at least some of them will. And all are pretty inexpensive to make, as well.

Most people I know are trying to save money on the meat they consume. So why not try to do without? Even for one day a week, Meatless Mondays can help you do that. There’s more to it than just beans and rice (although they’ve got some tasty recipes for that, too!). And, of course, Vegetarian Times has a whole slew of recipes that are not just for vegetarians. You can eat healthy and simply, saving money even as the prices keep going up at the stores. You just have to PLAN AHEAD.

Just make sure to make enough for leftovers. You know, for those last minute meals.

Patti Hermes

Patti Hermes, Parent to Parent, is living the dream with her high school sweetheart, raising their boys in the Midwest because it's a good starting point for epic road trips. While writing, reading and homeschooling take up most of her time, she still blogs at HermesParent to ParentParentingParent to Parent What's For Dinner? Try Going Meatless Once a Week by Patti Hermes Whenever I get together with friends, particularly those with children, inevitably we end up talking about food. What's good for you? What's not-so-good for you? What's on the latest recall list? What vegetables have we been...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids