Years ago I read, that Rose Kennedy (mother of JFK, RFK and recently deceased Teddy) served the same seven meals every week. Since the Kennedy clan has been in the multi-multi-millionaire category since the 1930’s, I’m confident that Rose was not actually in the kitchen with an apron on, whipping up these nightly meals. But, however these meals were prepared, the message is that she had a limited list of dinner main dishes that kept life simple.
Like your family, mine would probably revolt if I only served 7 meals – over and over and over again. So I’ve increased mine to 37. There’s nothing magical about that number, it’s just what I came up with about 10 years ago. I sat down one day and listed all the decently easy-to-make main dishes my family liked. I can hardly express how much this little list has helped me over the years.
I am not an amazing cook, nor do I love to cook. However, since it is so much cheaper and healthier to eat at home than it is to eat out, I have cooked most of the meals in our house for the past 26+ years. And I have found it is much easier to deal with dinner time if I am extremely familiar with the main dish recipe I’m cooking -- I've also found that my family eats more of the meal if I serve a dish they recognize.
My list of 37 main dishes are all family favorites. About once a year I update it – whacking out anything I’m tired of making (or have ceased to be favorites) and adding in the occasional new recipe that I’ve tried and everyone found tasty. So, it is a list that continues to evolve.
I keep this list as a Word document on my computer (for easy updating) and print it out. I then tape the list to the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards for easy reference. It is titled “Main Dishes that David Likes.” Since he and I have very different palates, I also use this list as a reminder of what he will enjoy eating (mild and creamy) – versus what I might enjoy (hot and spicy). I’ve highlighted the REALLY EASY meals on the list, so that in a time or ingredient pinch, I can remember what makes a good meal without taking either too much time or having to run to the grocery store for a special ingredient. I also have all the crock pot recipes grouped together.
Having a list like this saves me a huge amount of time and effort when planning my weekly menu – no more digging through piles of cookbooks, recipe cards or websites for ideas of what to serve. Some of these 37 recipes don’t get made more than a couple of times a year (Manicotti). While other recipes are made every couple of weeks (Quiche). It just depends on what sounds good to me at the time.
This simple list also helps me when I’m at the grocery store or looking through the store’s weekly sale flier. Because my menu is pretty standard month to month, I know what ingredients I traditionally need, so when I see them on sale I can stock up (saving lots of money). It also keeps me from having to buy some odd ingredient and then having it sit in the back of the fridge until I throw it away (wasting lots of money).
I’ll share my list with you and maybe it will get you thinking of your own family favorites. Feel like sharing your favorite go-to meal ideas?? We'd love to hear them!!
- Chicken Bacon Wrap - crock pot
- Pot Roast - crock pot
- Beef Stroganoff - crock pot
- Chicken a la King - crock pot
- Stew - crock pot
- Beef Dip Sandwiches - crock pot
- BBQ Spareribs - crock pot
- Taco soup - crock pot
- Pork Loin Roast
- Pepperoni Alfredo
- Tuna over Rice
- Mini Pizza
- Ham and Baked Corn
- Breakfast for dinner (waffles, pancakes, eggs and toast)
- Baked Chicken
- Fried Chicken
- Baked Pork Chops
- Chicken Packets
- Potato Soup
- Tuna and Pasta casserole
- Italian Pastry Bake
- Shepard’s Pie
- Chili and Corn Bread
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Crepes and Fruit Smoothies
- Stuffed Baked Potatoes
- Grandma Henrie’s Meatballs over rice
- Peanut Butter Chicken Soup
- Chicken Salad
- Ranch Chicken
- Chicken Divan