Streamlined Suppers


When I was pregnant with my third baby, I realized I needed to simplify my life.  I had two little ones aged 5 and under, was about to have a third, and had just made my way through a cancer diagnosis, surgery, and recovery.  I absolutely love cooking for my family, and pride myself on making healthy homemade meals, but I was feeling really burned out and without a lot of extra bandwidth.  In order to preserve the things that were important to me (without making myself crazy), I put together a streamlined plan that I still use, six years later.

  1. Get a meal planning notebook.  This is the key to it all.  I have a notebook and each week I take about 10 minutes to make a plan for the whole week.  I write out each dinner I’m going to make, and just loosely plan for lunches and breakfasts.  I love that my list is always in the same place and organized in the same way. The best part is that if I get stumped, I can just page back through for ideas of meals I have made in the past.

  2. That brings us to our second point.  Don’t go crazy with a million different meals.  Figure out what your family likes, and what you can/will make, and then literally make it every week.  We have a rotating menu that’s fairly similar and depends on the season (style of food–is it warm and we want salad, or freezing and we want casserole?) and the local produce that’s in season (availability). So for instance; our family loves Caesar salad, so this is on our menu every week in the summer until we get sick of it.  Then when we do, we just slip something else new into its spot.  Might be a taco salad, or pasta, or whatever! (Pro tip: the SECRET to getting your children to eat salad is buying the fresh-made dressing from Bread Garden!)

  3. Generally speaking, my kids always eat what I make.  The food is familiar, they enjoy it, and we just talk about if someone is getting bored with something and switch it out.  No more short-order cooking for picky kids. It may take a little time to dial in what people like vs. don’t like, but once you know, meal prep is the easiest part of your week!

  4. This system creates the luxury of sending anyone to the store.  You can just duplicate a list and send anyone to help you shop.  Spouse, friend, in-laws.  This is the best!

  5. Learning meals inside and out.  With fewer meals on your roster, you get so good at making them. It’s a great way to allow your kids to help, to make sure your spouse knows the recipe, and to learn more technical skills around cooking. It also allows you to get to the stage where you feel comfortable riffing on the recipe or even working without it.

If you try it out we’d love to hear about it!  Or, share some of your favorite meals to make to inspire our menus!


Some of our favorites:


  • Chicken and veggie shish-kabobs

  • Homemade Acai bowls

  • Greek salad

  • Orzo pasta salad








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