It is four o'clock and you do not know what for cook, you do not feel like cooking! This is one of the biggest complaints I hear (and read) about cooking. I have to confess that my life is getting fuller and I have days where I feel overwhelmed and it is hard to think about cooking. I have one day in particular I am gone all day and get home 45 minutes before I have to have dinner ready. So I have developed a plan of sorts for myself. It will not fix all your cooking problems but maybe give you a start. I think in 7 days. I mean all I need is to have dinner for 7 days, then I can repeat those 7 days every week. I can bling up those 7 days so they do not all feel the same but I only need to think in 7 days.
So here is my list.
Day 1 whole chicken
Day 2 ground beef probably, meatloaf or baked meatballs
Day 3 pasta dish
Day 4 fish dish
Day 5 vegetarian dish
Day 6 hubby barbecues, usually steaks or pork chops
Day 7 soup or stew, in the summer main dish salad
Now I do not follow this list religiously, actually on Sunday I try to make a fun, unique dish for my family. It is our splurge day with something like seafood lasagna! I get a glass of wine, put on a cooking show and cook away (I wish I could cook like this every day and am hoping my life will slow down a bit, so I can). We actually have vegetarian dishes more like 3 times a week, but none of this matters. What I mean is as long as I know I have this list and the food for it, I am set, I can set worries aside. For those crazy days I know I have food for my 7 day plan.
Below I will list some ideas of how to bling things up but all you have to have is a something for each category. Plus do NOT wait until dinner to think of dinner, at lest think the night before. I do so I can pull meat out of the freezer. Between this and a well stocked pantry, you should be able to pull out a dinner that looks like you are soo on top of things (even if you are not!!).
Whole chicken; 4 ideas lemon garlic rub, stuff under the skin w/ herb butter, smoked paprika+granulated garlic+salt+pepper rub or marinate in buttermilk and curry. Let each of those ideas inspire a side dish, something lemony, herbs, curry or Spanish?
Ground beef; Stuffed meatloaf with cheese or hard-boiled eggs, bake meatballs and sever with hummus and raw veggies, make joes special or Greek skewers.
Oh pasta, love the stuff; well first it is a great way to use leftovers, sever with roasted veggies, baked with cheese (add a big salad and you have dinner) or no-boil lasagna.
Fish; my oven roasted parmesan shrimp, pan friend salmon, lemon/caper scallops or fish stew. There are a zillion more ideas!!
Vegetarian; main course salad, soup, stuff w/ and baked (Wren bays has a wonderful recipe ;-) or veggi sushi.
Barbecue; well my hubby does not cook but he does barbecue, so I take advantage of that. He grills year around, rain, snow, sleet, he grills. I keep my freezer full of cheap, tough steaks already in marinade (to tenderize them) in freezer baggies all ready to go. Some weekends I have him grill extra stuff for the week to come. So I say grill away, it helps me!!!
Soups and stews; another great way to use leftover or bits of meat chili, pumpkin soup, beef stew, Asian wedding meat ball soup, I could go on and on!!