Don’t think about what you are going to cook/eat for dinner tonight. Think about what you are going to cook/eat tomorrow, everyday. (I promise, it will change your life.)

Many people make bad choices last minute. I often hear “I don’t know what I/we are having for dinner tonight!” And by the time they are driving home from a busy workday, the idea of spending time and energy cooking a meal is in itself exhausting. So, they stop and pick something up…or pick up the family and go out for dinner.

Cooking at home saves money, time (believe me) and has immense health benefits.

I try to think about our dinners for the week during the week prior. This allows me time to check circulars for deals and plan my shopping. I also spend about ten minutes glancing at the pantry and the refrigerator to see what I can make with what I have and what needs to be purchased. This is a big deal for me when it comes to perishable items because I try very hard not to waste food (which means wasting money!). Sometimes I fall short and can only manage to plan a day in advance. But even that is helpful and minimizes my stress come 5pm the following day.

As an example. Monday at 2pm I started to think about dinner. (FYI I am almost always thinking about food, so this may come easier for me. My DH doesn’t often think about eating until he is on the verge of gnawing on his own arm. During these times he will plow through a large bag of chips, eat three PB&J sandwiches, raid whatever dessert is on hand…you get the picture. Sometimes we both just get “hangry” and have to make an immediate, if not wise decision about dinner.) O.k., sorry…I digress…so…on Monday, not knowing what we were going to eat, I went to my mental inventory of my options. I attempt to have “meatless Mondays” every week (and other meatless days throughout the week) so that narrowed my choices. I didn’t want it to be difficult or time consuming because it was already afternoon. I’ve learned about myself, that if I don’t start cooking dinner by 5 or 5:30 we mignt not have a good dinner. I get lazy as the night wears on and then I have to consider when dinner will actually be on plates, time for clean up (I don’t have a dishwashing machine!), getting the boy ready for bed, downtime for the adults, etc.  The winner on wheel of dinner: pasta! Note: keep pasta on your shelves; several types so you’re ready for an easy, simple meal. Penne alfredo with spinach. Done in about twenty minutes and delicious.

The planning part? While I was baking fresh chocolate chip cookies (from a log of dough I put in the fridge a few days ago…more planning) I spent those nine minutes marinating some chicken thighs to roast on Tuesday. I also scanned the veg drawer for what needed to be cooked and served with the chicken (snow peas, cauliflower, leeks?). I alos spied the pork shoulder that needs to be marinated for pulled pork. That I will season while the chicken bakes on Tuesday. You see how this works? If I am always a day ahead, then I am never struggling with what we will eat.

So today, regardless of what and where you eat, spend some time thinking about and planning for dinner tomorrow. Once this healthy habit is established, you’ll notice a positive difference.