I really do crave advice from anyone who can help me simplify the meal planning process. Lay it on me, friends and readers! Sometimes the simple things are not obvious to me!
While I’m still begging your advice, I do have to share an e-book that I read and am trying hard to take to heart. Simplified Dinners by Mystie Winckler (who happens to be an AMAZINGLY gifted lady in organizing and simplifying) is slowly (because I’m slow) starting to sink in and take hold of my view on planning. (**affiliate! I love Mystie’s book and only promote it because I think it will be helpful to all of you!)
Mystie’s goal for the books (she has two version: one is “regular” and one is gluten free/dairy free!) is to
“provide the home cook with plenty of options for simple but delicious home-cooked meals that require little preparation time and can be made out of a simply, frugally stocked pantry.”
Well. She had me at hello, er, “simple”, “delicious”, and “little preparation time”. All those things I crave!
Now before you click away mumbling about “whatever”, hear me out. Sometimes the simple things really do need to be shown to us again. How many of you have Pinterest? How many of you look hungrily at the lovely pictures, but then sigh in exasperation because you just don’t have time for the steps and prep? Yeah, me too. Sure, I have hundreds of things saved on Pinterest…but my board of “favorites” which I’m trying to update is rather small. In fact, it has only 13 recipes. I made it to remind myself of the pinned recipes which we love, which I don’t mind making again, and which are worth my time. I could use a few more. The reality is that the simple life eludes us, and Mystie is trying to bring it back, with some simple recipes which are easily altered for different flavor profiles and dietary needs.
You really should check it out.
For example, on the page for slow-cooker roasts, there are 8 variations, each with about 5 ingredients and maybe up to 4 extra spices, which most of us have on hand already. Easy peasy. AND the variations are great. BBQ pork, or savory beef roast, or balsamic roast…just a sampling of the easy, simple-to-prep suggestions.
Or maybe you like chicken, but always forget to defrost it. Like I do. NO PROBLEMO. Mystie solves the great dilemma with more delicious recipes for slow-cooker chicken and you can toss in your frozen chunks of chicken breasts or thighs or whatever you have with the seasonings, and come back in 8 hours to a tasty main dish.
Don’t like chicken or roasts? No worries. There are pasta ideas, fish ideas, beans and lentils for vegetarian/meatless meals, egg dishes, soups and stews, salads, and! My favorite part of a meal: desserts (chocolate mousse, anyone?). Oh yes, there are also lovely recipes for vegetables and sides, which are important, also.
I really do love Mystie’s simple approach. I’m using the recipes, and even more than that, I’m using her ideas and approach, applying that to what we love already and eliminating the recipes and ingredients we don’t use often enough. Sure, I still love new recipes and my subscription to Bon Appetite, but I can’t cook like that on a regular basis. This is no fancy pants gourmet cafe. This is my home kitchen, which is always bustling. Simplicity is becoming the name of the game. Simplified Dinners is saving my meal planning.
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