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Running out of ideas...

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
We have always done alot of cooking in our house = rarely have takeout for dinner. But, I only recently (this month) began to really try to meal plan (rather than just wake up each day and wonder what we are gonna have that day for dinner) and I am loving it. Meal planning has made me feel less stressed and saved time and money at the grocery store because I know what I need for the next week.
However, ds1 has allergies to wheat, corn, soy and pasteurized dairy. I have gotten pretty good at finding substitutes (e.g., rice instead of orzo, etc), but am quickly running out of ideas for meals. We like pretty lots of different kinds of foods (asian, mediterranean, mexican, etc)... I guess I just am looking for more recipes / ideas than our "standby" stuff...
Anyone have ideas???
post #2 of 2
I read once that an average family has only ten to twelve recipes that they use over and over again. When I sat down to meal plan, I decided that, unlike my husband, I cannot eat things that often and not get very sick of them very quickly. Our kids have many food allergies (we're working, through NAET treatments, to rid them of the allergies, so we have a TON of foods back that we went without for years...but it's a process!). To name just a few: eggs, milk, soy, pea and tree nuts, most grains and gluten, each one has fruits and veggies that they can't eat...

What I did was this: I made a list of the recipes we used most often. Then I made a theme for every night of the week, and I made a "rule" for myself that I could not have any repeat meals for at least six weeks. I did (and still do) plan meals six to eight weeks at a shot, so that I only have to do it once every couple of months, and rarely if ever have to worry about what's for dinner or whether we have the stuff to make it in the house!

I had about 18 meals that we liked and used often and knew well how to make. I added about 12 more that I made once in a while. Then I went into my favorite cookbooks and started reading, and found about 20 more that I reallly wanted to try. I added one new recipe a week, and made it on a day that I knew I'd have "backup" to deal with the littles while I worked on something new, just in case it needed a LOT of attention the first time. But really, by making theme nights, it made it a lot easier to figure out meals to make. Breakfast for dinner isn't just pancakes! We make omlettes, blintzes, crepes, french toast, waffles...right there are six versions of breakfast for dinner! And a roast doesn't have to be beef. You can have pork roast, ham, chicken, lamb,and turkey. Six. And the sides that go with are easily changed up. And international meals...well, there are a million possibilities there!

And remember that we had food limitations! However, we found ways around those limitations. My kids had to use gluten free bread, and couldn't have eggs. So, when we had french toast, we made them cinnamon toast...toasted the bread, put butter on it, and added cinnamon sugar. Then dollaped a tiny bit of maple syrup on it.

When we make mashed potatoes, we use their buttery spread and chicken or veggie broth instead of milk. They make the lightest fluffiest mashers EVER, and people LOVE them when they come over to visit. They always ask for the recipe.

We have a vegetarian night, a soup/salad/bread night...you can do this too. Get a few good recipe books (The New Best Recipes by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, Rao's Italian Cook books, and How to Cook Everything are three of my favorites, in that order).

Good luck, and I hope that helps to expand your horizons!
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