My New Meal Planning Toy

Yep, It's been a couple of weeks, maybe a month, my friends and I've pretty consistently been planning our meals. I know. Quelle Surprise. Believe me, it was a necessity, not a choice. Once again I found the kidlets home from school in the afternoons surrounded by the 20 minutes of homework that they get and yet in that limited time they can go from fully functional to ready to eat a small mastodon. 

This meant there was no time to stare into the fridge and think, "I wonder what I can cook today." I was more like, "I wonder what I can put in their mouths RIGHT NOW." This is especially the case when Joy gets a particular idea in her head. Then that thought becomes a one word litany. "Juice. Juice. Juice. Juice. Juice." Sometimes she stops to breathe. Sometimes she acknowledges that you are speaking to her and letting her know that there is a) juice on it's way or b) there will in fact not be juice for some reason. Sometimes it's just best to make sure that food appears at regular intervals so that this doesn't happen in the first place.

Recently, I've taken and rolled all of my ideas up and I'm using everything I've got. We have a chicken night, a pasta night, a breakfast-for-dinner night, and a crockpot night. There's also usually a 'shopping at Costco night' or leftover night in the rotation each week depended on which week of the month it is. That's the basic structure and I grabbed hold of this with both hands when I saw this outlined in Erin Chase's $5 Dollar Dinner cookbook!

Once I have a structure then I just fill in the blanks with meals. I can usually get about a third of the way done without breaking a sweat. It's the rest that really makes me work. I know that this is probably not a hard thing for most people but trying to find meals that my kids with like and eat one any given day seems to actually cause me stress.

But now my stressful work comes with a shiny new package. I'm talking about Pinterest. If you haven't been over to Pinterest then let me entice you to the land of many pretty and shiny things. It's an Internet corkboard so that as you travel through the blogosphere you can put a 'pin in it' and type a description and it goes on the board. Other people can follow you, you can follow other people, or you can travel Pinterest in solitude. Mostly I've used it to gather ideas for meals to make.

Today I made the luscious garlic knots for fellowship at Church. These have been pinned for quite a while and they turned out exactly as they looked online. I'm not sure this has ever EVER happened to me, especially when I was cooking with the girls. Yep, they helped me make the second batch and they looked exactly the same as the first batch. Delicious, too.

And for dinner tonight we made the one pot macaroni and cheese. It did take a bit longer than expected but that was probably due to the fact that I used rotini and not elbow macaroni. Lesson learned. I can say that Joy was humming while she ate and this is a sign of supreme contentment and enjoyment.

I have several more recipes pulled from Pinterest already and I'll let you know how they turn out. I had definitely recommend Pinterest for brainstorming but if you only have a few minutes at your disposal don't go there. It's full of beautiful, shiny things and you'll never EVER want to leave. I promise.


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