Changing up your Meals with the Season

Summer, we will miss you. We'll miss handing off part of the meal prep to the Grill Master. We'll miss simple salads, and fresh fruit when it's almost too hot to eat. We welcome Fall and we await, if not with some trepidation, Winter. 

When the seasons change how I cook naturally changes along with it. Preparing meals for our family is serious work and it's easy to fall into a rut of offering them the same dinners week to week. One way I try to keep the meal planning fresh is to spend a little time with my cookbooks and my family. 

Pictured are: Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond,
Sandra Lee, and Taste of Home

I'm not a collector of cookbooks. Too many are counter-productive for me. I pulled 7 of my favorite cookbooks this morning and I'll spend some time browsing them today. Tonight my husband and kids will spend time perusing them and finding tasty new adventures they want me to tackle. 

My goal is to have about 45 - 60 meals in my bullpen at all times to work from in planning my monthly menu. There are at least 20 to 30 which are standard fare and family favorites, leaving about 30 new and seasonal recipes for trial. 

I'll ask each member of my family to choose at least 5 meals, they would like to give a go. I'll sort through them and create a new roster for the upcoming season. 

Keep it Fresh

As the primary meal maker for a family you have all the work of running a kitchen, planning a menu with very few of the rewards an actual chef would enjoy. It doesn't have to be this way. Changing up our menu and staying excited about food, meals and techniques can help relieve the feeling of drudgery. We know these folks we live with are going to insist on eating, probably 3 times a day! We can either create a system we can be excited about to get the job done or we can eat worms. Not literally, don't eat worms. But you get the idea.

If you aren't sure where to begin in the cookbook world, if you aren't a foodie per se, figuring out where to begin is a tough call. There are hundreds of meal planning websites, recipe websites, and more cookbooks than you can count. Just start simple. I love the internet but when I am looking for new meals, I almost always turn to the cookbook. I like flipping actual pages and seeing the photos. I use the recipe websites for times when I know what I want to make, but I'm not sure how I want to make it.

With my goal clear: Feed the people in my house. 
My standards clear: Healthy, economical, and not complicated

I spent a few nights at the bookstore some years ago sipping a latte and browsing cookbooks. I found a few that resonated with me - Pioneer Woman, Sandra Lee and Taste of Home and I ran with them. I'm a home cook. Not a fancy cook. I can't feed my kids squid, though my husband adores it. I need meals that work for me. I used to joke that I work in shades of Velvetta as my true medium. I'm making healthier choices for my family these days.

Make some time ever so often to explore new meals. Keep it interesting for yourself and your family. The change in season is an excellent excuse to take this on. 

Bon Appetit

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