Simple Meal Planning

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Dinner time can be one of the most stressful times of day for many families. Mystie Winckler, author of Paperless Organization, has the solution – Simplified Dinners.

Simplified Dinners Review

Simplified Dinners takes the concepts of meal planning and frugal shopping and, well, simplifies them. It relies on common ingredients (the stuff that normal people use) and staple foods to prepare stress-free dinners that the whole family will enjoy.

Simple Meal Planning with a Master Pantry List

The purpose of this cookbook is…

“…to provide the home cook with plenty of options for simple but delicious home-cooked meals that require little preparation time and can be made out of a simply, frugally stocked pantry.”

The idea is that you will use a master pantry list to simplify shopping, allow for bulk purchases, and take advantage of sales and coupon bargains, while still preparing home-cooked meals, rather than relying on highly processed foods. From that master list is built a wide variety of recipes for main dishes, side dishes, soups, and slow cookers meals that use the wholesome, fresh ingredients and staple goods on the master list. With the master pantry list, you always have the ingredients that you need to fix a variety of dishes.

The master pantry list set-up might make you think that there isn’t enough variety in Simplified Dinners (or the gluten-free and dairy-free version), but that’s not the case at all.

Simplified Dinners – Adding Variety to Basic Staples

I really like the way Mystie has grouped together roast and chicken dishes. On one page each, there are some basics for preparing the meat, with a variety of options for seasonings and add-ins to provides lots of flavor and prep choices. So, if you know you have a roast and the basic ingredients from the master pantry list, you can see, at a glance, all the different options for preparing roast.

asian beef

(These dishes tasted a lot better than the pictures probably look. There’s a reason why I’m not a food blogger/photographer.)

The same concept is used for other dishes. There are pages for:

  • Stovetop pasta dishes
  • Skillet cutlet dishes (using beef, pork, or chicken)
  • Bean dishes
  • Soups and stews
  • Mexican-themed dinners (tacos, fajitas, burritos)
  • Pizzas
  • Stir-fries

There is a section for marinates, which I really enjoyed. So far I’ve tried the teriyaki and the Asian and both were a big hit. Simplified Dinners also includes many ideas for side dishes, including a variety of potato dishes, vegetables, side salads (and dressings!), and breads.

teriyaki chicken

My favorite things about Simplified Dinners is the at-a-glance feature for the types of meals. Because everything is all together, I can see all the recipe possibilities without flipping through pages and pages of other recipes.

If mealtime tends to raise the stress level of your day, check out Simplified Dinners (or the gluten-free/dairy-free option). You can prepare healthy, home-cooked meals with spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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