30 Day Eat-In Challenge Evaluation

Here are some lessons and ideas I came away with from our challenge to eat strictly from home for the whole month of November:

  • Having a meal plan is imperative if you intend to eat more home-cooked meals. Look over the calendar and make arrangements for each day (I usually just plan dinner as breakfast is oatmeal, smoothie etc. and lunch is leftovers or something quick). If you have a busy night upcoming, plan for a freezer or slow cooker meal.
  • Leftovers are worth their weight in gold. Making several extra portions can save time and hassle during the following days. Who doesn’t want to open the fridge to an already-made lunch or dinner staring back at them?
  • Involving your kids in meal-planning and preparation usually means they will happily consume what is served.  A definite win-win!
  • Grocery-shopping with a menu and list means you really do save a few dollars!

I enjoyed tracking what I ate each day (through my Instagram posts).  I liked the feeling of self-reliance that came from planning and preparing all our meals and I can say with certainty that we will take this challenge again at least once in 2016.  Hopefully you’ll join us!

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Menu Plan and Week 2 of the 30 day Eat-In Challenge 

Monday did its best to knock me down this week, but I’m determined to get back up and finish the week strong!  Here’s what’s for dinner:

Monday: Pasta Primavera.

Tuesday: Leftovers. I want my Tupperware back!

Wednesday: Pan-Glazed Tofu with rice and garden veggies. Yes, we eat tofu. We are that weird!

Thursday: Something from the freezer. I’ll figure out what to defrost Wednesday night.

Friday: Cedar plank salmon, salad and oven fries.

Saturday: Ribs, cheddar biscuits and salad. Our best rib-cooking friends are coming to town and I’m planning to con him into helping with the meat. 🙂

Sunday: Popcorn, smoothies and a story.

Eat-In 30 Day Challenge

We are reading The Little House On the Prairie Series aloud as a family, and I have been marveling at the fact that every meal they ate was prepared at home. We just started the eighth book in the series of nine, and only once has the family purchased a meal when they were moving across the country by train. There has been the occasional meal shared with the extended family, or a church social, but still the food for these events was made at home. When circumstances necessitated lunch being eaten away from home, there was always the dinner pail with bread and butter. Dishes and menus were prepared days in advance, and there was a natural rhythm to the family’s meal preparation.

I am often harried, throwing something together for dinner at the last minute, or waking in the morning and quickly latching onto the first breakfast idea that comes to mind. Some days, I give the kitchen up entirely and grab something from a local restaurant. The result of this is repetition, rather than rhythm. I have been feeling the difference lately, and the need to plan in advance for our meals.

I have been mentally tossing around the idea of this “eat in” challenge for awhile. We actually don’t eat out that much, but I know that we’ve never gone an entire month without visiting a single eating establishment.

So, that is the challenge: 30 days, or the entire month of November, of preparing all our meals, snacks and desserts at home. One of my main goals with this is to actually plan in advance and have dinner going earlier in the day in order to bring a calm to our evenings. I’ll be posting my meals on Instagram to keep myself honest and following a few guidelines:

  • Food eaten by the family must be prepared at home, including lunches for those not at home during the noon hour.
  • Menus for dinners need to be planned once a week.
  • As much as time and circumstances allow, we will make our own dishes, rather than relying on prepared alternatives.

That’s it!  Join in if you’d like, or just come along for the ride, I’m sure it will offer at least a few entertaining moments!

Dinner menu plan for November  2nd – 8th:

Monday: Burgers on the grill with steamed beets.
Tuesday: Dip-it dinner.  We do black bean dip and hummus with veggies and crackers for dipping.
Wednesday: Ham fried rice.
Thursday: Eggplant Parmesan (I have this already in the freezer).
Friday: Leftovers or Omelettes, depending on how the fridge is looking.
Saturday: Chickpea curry.
Sunday: Popcorn and smoothies.  This is our weekly tradition.

Here was today’s breakfast to get us started:

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Cookbook Review

Do you have this book?   Or perhaps you have the older version, like I do.  Jamie’s Food Revolution one of my favorites and today I’m here to tell you why.  I hate almost nothing more than buying a cookbook that turns out not to be a good fit for me.  I feel bad for not using it, but there it is on the shelf staring back at me with its offerings of Duck Confit and Scallop Ceveche when what I really need is a recipe for Dinner 15 Minutes Ago, if you know what I mean.  Enter one of my culinary heroes, Jamie Oliver.

Jamie Oliver

This book is full and I mean FULL of great recipes from easy salads and sides (that normal people would eat), to quick 15-20 minute meals, to roasted dinner that are all dressed up for Sunday.  It’s hands-down my favorite cookbook for dinners.  I have other favorite books in the baking, bread, and regional categories, but when it comes time to put a dinner on the table that will please everyone, this book is where I always turn.  So, if you’re looking for a few new recipes to add to your rotation, I’d highly recommend this book.  “Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it…”(quick, name that 80’s reference)