winging it mum

Winging it at dinner time

on February 9, 2012

When it comes to preparing dinner for my family I definitely wing it. Breakfast is a no brainer. Lunch can always be thrown together; a salad, soup, left overs or a trusty sandwich. But dinner is a whole other story. I get to the afternoon and at some point I am prompted by my rumbling tummy to start to get my head around what is for dinner. At this point, I don’t get a rush of excitement, but rather I get a heavy burdened feeling; like someone who has forgotten something important. It’s not like a day goes by that we don’t eat dinner; so why the shock at rumble time! Perhaps it’s shock because yet again I’ve forgotten to plan dinner! I can’t even blame the kids for this as I suffered from serving winging it dinners ever since I first moved out of home. At rumble o’clock to cope ABC2 is turned on so my 3 1/2 year old is taken care of but the greatest struggle is to provide the “duddles, duddles” that are demanded of me by my little man. So I head to winging it headquarters (aka the kitchen) sometimes with bubba in my arms and food bribes for him at arms reach. Do you serve winging it dinners?

For me winging it dinners have come to be due to my lack of organization and inspiration in this area. I’ve tried a few things to help me improve in this area. For inspiration: I got given a subscription to Donna hay, but only a few recipes have made it into my repertoire – as the kids get older I hope I can add more, but in the meantime I have stopped the subscription. Taste has an iPhone app that looks good, it’s installed on the phone, but it’s unused! Friends told me about a planning with kids website/blog. There are great tools and ideas there but they are still on my to do list. I have a Kikki k weekly planner that I thought I’d use but haven’t persisted. So yes it’s been a struggle that I am yet to overcome. I do get it right sometimes but more often or not I wing it. What has worked for you? Help me!

Not only do winging it dinners create undue stress in our lives but I know it wastes a lot of money. When I do a big shop I get food for a few meals but would never plan for a whole week. So I buy things that I am not sure I need or know how I will use them. Then later in the week I have to do a top up shop where I buy more than what I planned to.

I have stumbled recently across the $120 food challenge. After reading the introduction to the cook book I was curious and purchased it. The challenge was birthed out of Sandra Reynolds’ circumstances. She only had $120 a fortnight to live off. She has put out a book of tips and recipes that challenge people to come up with their food budget and stick to it. I literally have just bought this book and have found the before you cook section to be great and refreshingly practical. Literally that is all I have read at the moment but I am looking forward to trying some recipes too.

This winging it dinners mum wants to reform! I am letting you know this so you can keep me accountable!!!

Em xx



12 responses to “Winging it at dinner time

  1. Jodi says:

    Well you know my thoughts on this. Seriously you will feel so much better once you get in the hang of planning. Remember I have resisted it for a long time but it will save you money and time. The meals don’t need to be extra special or fancy but an idea of what is coming up really cuts down trips to the supermarket. And since you have 2 to drag around the less trips the better!!

  2. for readers says:

    I’ve started planning a weekly menu and writing what we’re having for dinner in my diary for each day. I like to include some dishes that I haven’t made before to make it more interesting.

    I usually plan it before I shop so that I can buy just the right amount of ingredients and reduce waste and eliminate the need for that often expensive top-up shop. Sometimes, though, I’ll make up the menu as I’m shopping, based on what is on special that week.

    It has reduced that heavily-burdened feeling when you suddenly realise you have to come up with something. These days I’m actually looking forward to making whatever dish it is that I have planned.

    However, if f you’ve left it to the last minute, a good source of inspiration are websites with recipe finders. You key in the ingredients that you have and it will suggest recipes for you.

  3. Renada says:

    Em – I used to do that too but for a few years now I’ve been using the following system and it makes life soooo much easier! On a Saturday I plan the dinners for the following Monday to Sunday and crucially I write them on a whiteboard I keep on the freezer so that every time I need to know what we’re having it’s right there and I don’t feel stressed. I usually only cook 4 meals a week so that cuts down on the planning, I cook enough for 2 nights on Monday, cook enough for 2 nights of a different meal on a Tuesday, then have Monday’s leftovers on Wednesday, eat Tuesday’s leftovers on Thursday, normally home-made pizza on Fridays and then a big batch of something on Saturdays that we re-heat on Sundays. I don’t have time to cook 7 different meals every week, there are so many other things I need to get done, plus it means that I’m more available for afternoon playtime with the boys instead of being stuck in the kitchen when they really want cuddles. For the shopping aspect: on the Sunday I go to the wholesale meat place to buy what I need and any good specials to freeze for later use, on Monday I have the kids in occasional care so I’m now saving a lot of money by buying everything possible on my list from Aldi, then I go to the cheap but fabulous greengrocer, and finally buy everything remaining on my list from one of the major supermarkets (before I go I check their websites for specials to see if there are other things on my supermarket-only list that I need to buy that week too). This way we’re wasting no food, I always know what I’m going to cook, and we’re saving enough money to go on a fantastic summer holiday next year. Hope that helps – you can do it!!!

  4. Amanda says:

    I know it’s not easy to go straight to doing this but I have just started doing some once a month cooking (oamc). Basicially, it means you do a massive shop and then spend the next day (or over a few days if you’re me) doing a lot of food prep. It saves time and power because you can do stuff on a production line. I cook 2 roast lambs at once, 4 roast chickens, make 8 pizzas, a giant pot of spag bog of which I can make lasagne with some. Stuffed chicken breasts x 8 etc etc. You get the picture. : ) Then it all goes in the freezer and you can just pull something out the night before to defrost. Weekly I buy fresh fruit and veg and milk. It does take some organization but in the end you will save heaps of time and money. You do need a BIG freezer though……

    • embilee says:

      Wow Amanda! OAMC never heard of it before!! Amazing! Your house must smell delicious on those days and surely you flop after the cook up but then get a month off:) love it! Thanks for sharing:)

  5. Oh Em, remember when you and Brett came down to Port Arlington with a “dinner” of crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar! Haha, definitely winging it.

    As for us dinner in our house, we do a healthy mix of planned and winging it dinners. Shopping therefore consists of a few planned buy vegies/groceries and also a couple of versatile staples. And I have to say that sometimes the winging it dinners are a bit of fun – you experiment more when you have to use up certain things. The other night nick made cabbage fritters (he’s much better at winging it than me).

    By all means, don’t let dinner be the cloud hanging over your head every day, but at the same time, embrace your ‘winging it’ approach! 🙂

    • embilee says:

      Thanks Al! Haha about the bread & balsamic:) yeah to be able to wing it is a skill but I think I rely on this too much. We need to come for a Nick winging it special 😉 thanks for the encouragement!

  6. Anita says:

    I always wing it in the kitchen and get stressed about it too. I am interested to know whether the $120 book is really helpful. When I think of planning meals ahead of time I think that all sounds too hard so I just stay with my current approach which doesn’t work very well.

    • embilee says:

      Anita I am encouraged that you too are tired of being stressed in the kitchen. Yay for small steps hope our first week of planning goes well. So far so good on this end:)

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