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April 4, 2024 6 mins

Repeat your crowd-pleasing favorites

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning.
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is to take the stress out of dinner, even
if you are feeding a crowd. Most days, eating doesn't

(00:27):
have to involve copious mental work. I read a lot
of magazines, and over the years many have run some
version of an article aimed at solving the pain point
of dinner. This setup is often a person realizing at
five PM that he or she, and let's be honest,

(00:48):
it's always she has no idea what is for dinner?
Everyone is going to be hungry. What do we do
about the stress? Enter the magazine's thirty minute rest. I
will say that if you are reading a magazine at
five pm trying to figure out what's for dinner that night,
then yes, dinner could be stressful, but it really doesn't

(01:13):
need to get to that point. My family of seven
eats a lot of meals, and despite my not feeling
particularly stressed about it, no one has starved. The key
is to not overthink this meal, at least during the
work week. For us, that means a lot of repetition

(01:36):
of crowd pleasing favorites with a little variety thrown in
to keep the adults from getting bored. Almost every Monday
we eat pasta. Adults and children who like more interesting
flavors eat our pasta with jarred marinara sauce jazzed up
with Italian sausage, red peppers, spinach, or whatever other veggie

(02:01):
combo we have in the fridge. Children who don't want
that either have plain marinara sauce or butter or parmesan cheese,
all with cut up fruit on the side. Everyone is
reasonably happy and no one ever has to worry about
what's for dinner on Monday. Many Tuesdays lately we've been

(02:23):
having some version of chicken and rice. It turns out
that modern supermarkets carry a variety of international sauces. Add
thaie red curry, and you have one dish. Add Rogan
Josh sauce and you have an entirely different one. Tarayaki
or Sri racha mayo is something different. Entirely serve with

(02:46):
some vegetable like frozen corn that's been heated up in
the microwave, and voila, you have a meal. On Wednesday,
we outsource cooking, and it is always a surprise what
we get that keeps things interesting. Kids who don't like
what we get can make their own pizza with frozen
dough sauce and cheese. If we weren't outsourcing cooking that

(03:11):
particular night, we might do takeout one night per week,
or maybe one of those meal kits that would add
a little midweek variety as well, without adding much to
anyone's metaphorical plate. Thursday these days tends to be breakfast
for dinner, eggs, bacon, some sort of carb, and fruit

(03:34):
on the side. Yum. The kids can always do another
dinner of mac and cheese some night, or quesadillas if
we need to. We put a little more effort into
these things on weekends, grilling or doing something like fajitas
or even a surfin turf meal if we're feeling fancy,
But on weeknights I am not aiming for fancy. I

(03:57):
am just aiming to have everyone fed. To make this
all work, we just always get the ingredients for our
basic meals when we go to the store. That way,
there is no worry about whether we have stuff for
dinner or what's for dinner. Any stress during the work
week is pretty minimal. We always have the ingredients for

(04:21):
three to four crowd pleasing favorites, so it is all good. Now.
You might not like pasta or chicken and rice with
some sauce, or breakfast for dinner, but my guess is
that your family has at least three or so meals
that everyone is happy with and that can be served
on repeat for a long time. So why not just

(04:43):
choose one of those meals to always serve on Mondays
unless there is a good reason not to add in
another set night or two each week, and you can
save any mental meal planning energy for just a few
nights per week, then it is never overwhelming, no need
to be that stressed out person in the magazine, and

(05:06):
anytime we can take the stress out of dinner, that
is a good thing. In the meantime. This is Laura.
Thanks for listening, and here's to making the most of
our times. Thanks for listening to Before Breakfast. If you've

(05:29):
got questions, ideas, or feedback, you can reach me at
Laura at Laura vandercam dot com. Before Breakfast is a
production of iHeartMedia. For more podcasts from iHeartMedia, please visit
the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to

(05:51):
your favorite shows,

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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