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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): No More "What's for Dinner" Stress!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

No More "What's for Dinner" Stress!

Do you run to the grocery store EVERYDAY and grab whatever looks good off the shelves? Or maybe, you’re the kind of person who fills your shopping cart to overflowing once a week and then during the week, when it really counts, you stare into your refrigerator and find NOTHING to make for dinner? Do you agonize throughout the day, trying to figure out what to make for dinner….then get home, with still no idea and try to throw something together that hopefully is somewhat edible? If any of this is you….read on!


STOP…this is the last week you are going to do that! Next week, you are actually going to be organized and have a system to the “what’s for dinner” madness. First off, I know you have a ton of cookbooks at home. When was the last time you looked at them? Are are you the type who gets the cookbook with the pretty pictures from the library…just to look? Let’s commit to going down a different road TODAY.


The first thing you are going to do, is to choose four or five recipes for this next week. Yes, we are going to start right now. For now, I just want you to pick main dishes….later, when you get the hang of this, you can also pick your accompaniments. Always have rice, pasta and potatoes on hand as well as frozen vegetables (which you should steam to try to retain some of the nutritional value and flavor) to go along with your chosen main dishes. I also like to have fresh carrots and lettuce on hand too for nibbling and salads.


Over the weekend, I like to look through my cookbooks and a couple I always have on hand from our local library. Plan about four or five meals for the week. I scan through a recipe, and then on an index card or in my planner, write (as an example):

Betty Crocker Cookbook

1. Chicken Florentine 34 (chicken breast, heavy cream, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms)

2. Campbell’s Meatloaf 22 (ground beef, ketchup, cream mushroom soup, onions)


Now let me break it down. The heading is always the name of the cookbook. I number each main dish just to make it look orderly. Write out the recipe name and page number. In parentheses, write out the ingredients. Use abbreviations (as long as you understand them!). I don’t write down staples such as salt, flour, chicken bouillon, cornmeal, spices (unless it’s one I don’t regularly have). You are just going to write down what you need to buy to complete that meal. If you need to buy something of a certain size, write that down too.


After a while, you are going to figure out which recipes work best for you and your family. I like to keep a master list, in my day planner, where I transfer the above information of the recipes I plan to use again sometime. In the future, if you ever get stuck in the “what’s for dinner” rut and do have to run to the grocery store, you know exactly what to get for your meals.

Once you get the main meal down, start branching out into looking for side dishes, vegetables, salads and yes, even dessert recipes. You’re going to find that you’ll end up with a dozen favorite recipes that are low-stress and low-fuss to make, but you will still have room to try newrecipes here and there.


What ideas do you have to make your cooking and meal planning stress-free? Please share them here.




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