Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Come Up With an Idea for Dinner

Or Making It Easy to Get to the Table (Part 3)

Do you struggle over what to make for dinner? 

I go in spurts of making menus. Whenever we are going to have guests I make detailed menus that include two or more side dishes, where to find the recipes, and sometimes even when to take food out of the freezer or what time to get it going. I used to do it every week for the family, but it is a little easier now that it's just the two of us at home. One thing is my husband is very good about eating lots of veggies and  not turning his nose up at anything, so I don't have to worry about who likes or eats (or doesn't eat) something. (He does tell me if something is good enough to put in my "top ten" file or if I "don't need to repeat that.")

But even if you know what your basic food will be--say baked chicken--you still need to come up with some ideas for what to serve with it. Early in our marriage I made some pretty blah meals. How about one memorable meal of baked chicken (no skin), mashed potatoes, and cauliflower. And this was back when I thought salt and pepper were the only spices you needed, unless you wanted to make cinnamon rolls.

That meal was white, tasteless, and textureless.

Then I did some research on what makes a great meal and I found out that contrast is one of the keys.


  • hot and cold: Hot food stimulates the appetite and enhances the taste of many foods, but it needs to be balanced with foods meant to be eaten cold or at least room temperature. If you have a roast with some steaming gravy, mashed potatoes, a broccoli salad might be just the contrast you need to create an enjoyable experience.
  • colors: Think about how a meal will look on the plate. My all white meal was served on my all white plates and that added to the blandness. Now I try to involve as many different colors as possible when planning a meal. That's one reason I love my signature carrot salad--you can hardly make a whole meal orange!
  • flavors: We've come to expect spicy food to have a cool green salad with it because they bring out each other's flavors, helping us appreciate each taste and cool the mouth if it's very spicy.
  • textures: Chewing food helps take the time we need to feel satisfied. If we have a creamy soup we love to pair it with a crusty artisan bread to give us the feeling of truly eating.

To see other posts in the "Making It Easy" series, click here.
Part One: Keeping Your Kitchen "Dinner Making" Ready
Part Two: Getting Your Soul Ready for Dinner

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  1. Interesting post :-) Pinned ! {from the Pin Me party}

    With A Blast

  2. Yes - I agree, sometimes it is hard to make dinners interesting. For 4 months I had a meal plan - wrote down the meat for each meal using what was in the fridge, then once a week went shopping to make the rest of the meal. it worked very well and I have to get back to that.
    I am following you from Spiritual Sundays.

  3. Nothing kills presentation of a plate like foods of all the same color! Contrast is definitely a great point!

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  4. Great advice. I love the idea of soup with crusty bread. I also find a variety of colors make a plate look that more delicious.

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

  5. Thanks for sharing! Your friend, linda

  6. I make baked chicken SO much, and I try to make things interesting. I've used leftover pizza crusts to coat chicken for fried chicken and I love to try to repurpose things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's a total failure. But it keeps dinner interesting.

  7. Some great reminders! Thanks for sharing.

  8. I've often thought about taste when preparing a meal, and occasionally thought about colors if I was "presenting" the meal for something special, but never thought about textures. Yes, I know that meals without some texture usually don't appeal to me. Thanks for these thoughts/ideas.

  9. Thanks for linking up & sharing @ great to have you!Hope to see you again this week! Theresa

  10. That Mac & Cheese looks great! Thanks for sharing this at my Pin Me Linky Party.

  11. Those look so good! I'm in one of my "don't wanna cook" phases and it's driving me crazy trying to figure out what to eat each night. If I would just cook a dinner, I would probably eat much faster!

    Mei @ Diary of a Fair Weather Diver

  12. Mmm.. loks so good and tempting!! :) I'm so glad we found your blog!! Thanks for linking up with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!



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