Dinner Makeover: Help With Menu Planning
Opposite schedules and a lack of menu planning make dinnertime a struggle for the Muse family. Here, Real Simple steps in.
Michelle Muse, 31
What does dinner usually look like in the Muse household? Fast-food burgers, frozen lasagna, or take-out pizza. Michelle, a registered nurse, knows that’s not a healthy diet. “Plus, going to restaurants gets so expensive,” she says. But she and her husband have exhausting, polar-opposite schedules. (Michelle clocks in from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. three days a week, and Steven, 34, also a nurse, works the overnight shift.) So that leaves little time for planning and preparing dinners. On the days when Michelle is at the hospital, Steven’s mother watches the children—Andrew, 12; Alexis (Lexi), 8; and Emily, 3—and is willing to pitch in with cooking. But she often relies on Michelle for meal plans, which are rarely forthcoming. “Explaining what I have in mind always feels like too much work,” says Michelle. That’s not surprising, since Michelle finds the kitchen a bit intimidating. “I never really learned to cook,” she admits. “And I avoid buying fresh produce, since I worry it will rot.” But now she wants to set a good example for her kids, who tend to be picky eaters. “I hate shopping for food and making meals. Dinner has become my downfall.”