Happy Tomatoes.


I have this tomato print {found on Etsy} hanging above my sink. It has become the perfect place for me to organize mealtime.

I don't like making the same thing for dinner over and over. I get bored easily and I want my family to eat good food, so I try new things a lot. Dinner time can be hectic, so I have a system.
The Happy Tomatoes.

I have a great collection of cookbooks (I love them), a binder with recipes I've ripped out of Food Network Magazine, a nice array of online recipe boxes from various websites, and food blogs bookmarked like crazy. These are my resources...plenty of them.

Every two weeks I make a new menu. I pick just one resource...one cookbook, or my binder, or a website, etc. This way I know where to find each recipe and I don't confuse myself.

Then I spend an hour or so picking out around 10 good recipes. I write them down (with a dry erase marker) on the happy tomatoes, and then right down all the ingredients I need on my grocery list. I try to find recipes with similar ingredients, to save money and not waste anything.

Then I pick 3-4 "flex" recipes from my head. You know, the easy quick ones you always remember. The ones you can whip together at the last minute.

I put a little circle by the recipes with the ingredients that will go bad quickly, so I remember to make those first (not pictured. I was lazy this week). There's nothing worse than buying green peppers just to throw them away a week later. ugh.

In the top right hand corner I write down some side dish ideas.

The bottom right is dessert, snack ideas.

So while I'm standing over the sink snarfing down a brownie after breakfast, I can choose what to make for dinner and I know I have the ingredients for it. I have a variety of recipes to choose from (which is good, I like choices...I might not feel like having Italian on Tuesday, or Pizza on Friday. Sometimes I want Rigatoni on Mexican Monday...you know? variety.), I know exactly where to find the recipe, and I can prep anything I know I'll need for the 5:00 dinner rush.

I'm happy.
My family's happy.

We have Happy Tomatoes.


chris said...

I'd love to know some of your go-to cookbooks. I'm in a bit of a recipe slump. Your tomatoes are awesome.

amy said...

Fabulous idea!!! Your system is awesome and the tomato print is so adorable! :)
I think I'm stealing your idea and I second the source request!! ;)

Yo Mama said...

We have the same brain. I kept reading and thinking, "yes, yes, yes, I do that. I love that. We're awesome." It must have been all those years of observing you before I got married that rubbed off on me. And, i love costco. That's all.

wendy said...

I love you Happy Tomatoes.
I should incorporate the idea of circling the meal's that need to be eaten first so the produce doesn't go bad....I end up throwing so much away,
cause I FORGET it was there and what I was going to do with it.

Sarahie said...

I have a recipe obsession too. It does my heart good to hear that someone else gets bored quickly when it comes to cooking!

I love this idea! The happy tomatoes are so cute! I'm so obsessive though that I usually plan my menu a month at a time.

Amanda said...

Your menu looks wonderful....your should so share some of those recipes.

Anonymous said...

Ehem. Does this mean I should give up on the waiting to get a cookbook from you idea? :) I am definitely tired of the same ole stuff. Maybe I will implement your system. I am certainly intrigued by your menu! Yum! You are so on the ball!

cally said...

the cookbook...who the?...huh?...

yeah. It's still on my list.

the long list.

mandi said...

this is great. i don't like meal planning, but i like the results of meal planning. and this is way more relaxed, more my speed. thanks for sharing ms. cally!

Anonymous said...

You're awesome. Just so long as I know it's still on the list. Maybe you will finish it when I finish the afghan...after all the grandkids have graduated from college. I will still be waiting. :)

Sherri said...

Love this post!
I love variety too! I seldom cook the same thing twice...I love to try new things!
Your system is awesome!!!