the dinner dilemma

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i’m a creature of habit. if left to my own devices, i would eat the same thing for dinner from here to perpetuity. because unlike breakfast which i genuinely look forward to and lunch which usually involves turkey slices and pickles, dinner is that one meal that, after a long day, is the last thing i want to plan. most nights, i just wish that when i got home from teaching late night barre classes, some magical dinner elves had snuck into my kitchen and prepared a delicious and healthy meal (and then cleaned the dishes afterward, too) and all i have to do is kick-off my shoes, find a fork, and bon appetit.

turns out, i found myself the next best thing. a real life dinner elf that, most nights, does in fact prepare our evening meal so that when i get home at nearly 8 p.m., i don’t resort to a big bowl of cereal (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mmmm honeycomb). but after a week of asking him to prepare brown rice bowls with leftover frozen shrimp and pre-cut zucchini, i figured it was time to get a little creative.

so i got back into a habit i had seemed to abandon somewhere between deciding to ease off paleo and saying goodbye to singlehood. menu planning. taking the time at the beginning of the week to map out each night’s dinner to not only manage spending (eating out is great but not so great on the bank account or waistline) but to also add a bit of variety in an otherwise monotonous food routine.

armed with ideas and two gift cards from santa and his elves, i entered trader joe’s last weekend with an added excitement. doesn’t everybody get excited to go grocery shopping? just me? unlike my regular weekly visits, i took my time scouring the aisles for ingredients to use in a week’s worth of meals. romaine hearts, brown rice pasta, chicken apple sausage. i don’t think my cart has seen such an array of items in, well, maybe ever. when i got home, i got to work creating a menu to hang on the fridge. i figured if it was all fancily written down, we’d be more apt to follow it (i have a tendency to say “ahh, forget it, let’s get chipotle!”). so far this week has gone very well and i genuinely look forward to cooking dinner (or having it cooked for me) each night. hopefully this is a trend that will continue throughout the rest of the year (schedule willing) because then i can graduate from a paper menu to one of those cute chalkboard frames for my kitchen.

in case you were curious, here’s what this week’s menu looks like:

monday -brown rice pasta with grilled zucchini and squash, tomato sauce, and turkey meatballs

tuesday -grilled romaine hearts with baked chicken and vinaigrette

wednesday -breakfast for dinner! scrambled eggs with roasted peppers and onions and chicken sausage

thursday -brown rice bowls with zucchini and chicken or shrimp

friday -leftover quinoa tabbouleh salad 

saturday -out!

curious to know, do you plan your weekly meals in advance? or just stock the fridge and hope something jumps out at you when you’re ready to eat?

image via old and new designs


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