Keep a Dinner Diary

Write up a schedule of meals once a week, and you'll eliminate the vexing nightly question: "What should I make?"

By Amanda Hinnant and Jenny Rosenstrach
Recipe bookMichele Gastl
It's not the act of cooking on a weeknight that you dread: It's figuring out what to make, digging up a recipe, and shopping.

With a dinner diary, you'll eliminate the front-end work. On the weekend, decide what you'll be eating for the week and write down the nightly schedule in a durable blank book. Coming home late on Tuesday? Plan on a simple chicken and rice. Band concert on Thursday? Make a double batch of chili on Wednesday so you won't have to cook. Once the lineup looks good, hit the supermarket.

The longer you keep it up, the more valuable the book becomes. (After six months, you can have as many as 150 menu ideas.) You can also use it for planning parties. Take notes on what works and what doesn't, whom you invited and who came. If you have wine remaining from your holiday party, jot down how many bottles―and how many guests you had―so you'll have less left over next year. Or so you'll have more.
Read More About:Preparation

Related Content

Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

6 Ideas for Leftover Easter Ham

Don’t want to let post-holiday ham go to waste? Use the extra to make everything from breakfast pizza to pasta gratins.

Do you have a meal-planning tip?

View Earlier Comments
Advertisement

Quick Tip

Parmesan

If you don’t have a Parmesan rind on hand, try stirring in ¼ cup grated Parmesan just before serving.