How do I decide what to make for dinner? Weekly, I go through the grocery fliers and decide what is on sale and what I can make with it. If I want to try something new, I will do an internet search and see if anything looks interesting. We tend to be a more meat and potatoes type of family, so I focus more on the meats when I plan. Everyone in my family has things they like and don’t like so I choose to cater a little to their tastes as well. Your main menu categories may fall elsewhere but mine tend to be grouped into seven categories.
- Ground beef/ground turkey – This versatile meat can be made into hamburgers, sloppy Joe’s, impossible cheeseburger pie, or meatloaf. If making burgers, I like to get 85% lean meat. If you go with any less fat, the burgers tend to be dry. For the other items, you can go leaner if you want to. Just add a side (we like rice or potatoes) and a veggie to your meal and serve it up. I’ve been trying to make things a little bit healthier, so I use whole wheat rolls to get those good grains. Check out other ideas from Family Fresh Meals.
- Pasta – With a vegetarian in the family, I tend to make pasta once or twice a week. Spaghetti with or without meatballs is the usual. Sometimes I make this with just sauce if the vegetarian is going to be home, or I keep a little plain sauce out if I am making meatballs. If I am making spaghetti with meatballs, I buy sub rolls as well because the next day can be meatball subs for supper. Homemade macaroni and cheese is a big hit and it isn’t that hard once you do it a few times and it is really worth the effort. Baked ziti, with or without ground meat depending on my mood, is well accepted by the family, too. Southern Living has a big list you can peruse to get ideas.
- BLSL (bone-less, skin-less) chicken breasts – I love baked parmesan chicken breasts! They are very easy and moist and tasty. Chicken breasts are easy to slice into homemade chicken tenders or nuggets and bread them. You can marinate and grill chicken breasts to use in chicken breast sandwiches, or make grilled chicken salad. Check these recipes out from Taste of Home.
- Soup and sandwiches – The staple in this group in our house is tomato soup and grilled cheese. It is basic comfort food. Try chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese. Make minestrone soup and pair it with a veggie burger. During the work week, I open cans of soup, but on the weekend, I will make homemade soup. Tastes much better and is better for you. Check out Campbell’s (of course) for some ideas.
- Crock pot recipes – If you have a little time in the morning you can throw together some nice recipes with few ingredients and come home to supper already made! One of my favorites is to add individually frozen BLSL chicken breasts to the crock pot, and mix up a packet of dry Italian dressing mix with water and dump it on top of the chicken. Put this on low heat for 8-9 hours and your chicken is nicely marinated and ready to eat when you get home. Check out the Frugal Girls 5 Ingredient Crockpot Recipes for suggestions.
- Breakfast for dinner – This category gets put into the repertoire when I just absolutely can’t seem to get motivated to cook. This is one of my favorite categories because most times I don’t have time to make a nice big breakfast in the morning, so I serve it up at supper time. Pancakes and sausage, eggs, bacon and toast, English muffins stuffed with eggs and cheese, or French toast can be a hit at other times than the A.M. The Food Network has a nice list of easy breakfast for dinner ideas.
- LEFTOVERS – The easiest category of all, and yet the most overlooked. Some meals are even better the second time around. My family tends to look past leftovers in the refrigerator so once a week I have leftover night. There are starving children in the world and I can’t see wasting food like that!!
I hope my list of seven main groups of foods gave you some ideas of what you can make quickly and without a lot of trouble. Play around with the ideas. Make up your own food groups. Maybe your family likes cheese, pork, or salads. Once you decide on your main groups, it becomes easier to focus on your meal planning.
Do you have a food group you’d like to share? Leave me a comment and share it!