a peek inside the fishbowl

03 Sep, 2008

Making dinner & lunch planning a little easier on myself

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|parenting|Recipes and Food

When September rolls along I feel a renewed interest in like I’m forced to revisit the concept of meal planning. If it were up to me I would eat chickpeas and good cheese and leafy salads all day long. But my family is not me.

Last year I hit a breaking point with my ever growing stack of Canadian Living magazines. I was saving the entire magazine – every month – because they each had a few good recipes in them.

I went through each issue and exacto-knifed the recipes I wanted and slid them into clear sleeves in a cheap binder that now lives in my kitchen with me.

I’ve divided my binder into sections: appetizers, soups/salads/sides, main dishes, desserts. It’s not the best system. I still do a lot of flipping, but when I’m looking for ideas it does the trick.

Here it is:

recipe book

It ain’t much to look at, but the benefits are obvious. Unlike other cookbooks, this one only contains recipes that look good to me. If a recipe doesn’t work out I just pitch it. It’s made dinner planning a lot easier for me.

re: school lunches

Over the years I’ve tried to stress less about what to give the kids for lunch every day. Specifically, I’ve had an issue with the small variety of “mains” the girls are willing to eat. I have decided not to worry about it. If they want to eat pretty much the same thing day after day, so be it. The repetition is my problem, not theirs. As long as it’s healthy, right?

I made the girls sit down and write down what kinds of things they wanted for lunch. Here’s a sampling:

lunch list

This gives me a great starting point. No longer would I (wrongly) assume Sarah would eat a tomato/cheese sandwich. Mummy logic assumes that if a child likes tomatoes, cheese, and bread, that this child would also appreciate a tomato cheese sandwich, right? WRONG.

The lists are fairly comprehensive, and if I play my cards right (i.e DO THE GROCERY SHOPPING) I can squeeze in all the food groups and make it a healthy well-rounded lunch.

Hooray for that!

3 Responses to "Making dinner & lunch planning a little easier on myself"

1 | Javamom

September 3rd, 2008 at 10:13 am


Hm. I have a binder like you with clipped recipes but no space in my tiny kitchen to keep it. Then, I had an idea.

Just across the bathroom, I have this long empty wall. I mounted 3 rows of magnetic strips from IKEA where currently I display photos or artwork from the 3yo.

Everytime I go to the bathroom, or the backdoor which is near there, I pass this wall. So now one row is dedicated to recipes I clipped from magazines. The ones I want to try now, or soon, anyway. Then, if it’s a hit or if I no longer need the recipe, I take the clip down and place it in the binder. Next time I open a magazine and see a new recipe worth trying, up it goes on the wall…maybe I should post about this on my blog.

PS your girls sure like fruit!!

2 | Julie

September 4th, 2008 at 8:21 am


Huh. What a great idea. I also have tons of magazines that I refer to when I have am stuck for ideas. My problem is that I can never remember where I saw the particular recipe. I’m going to find the time to do that too. Thanks for the idea! (You’re such a smartie pants.)

3 | porter

September 4th, 2008 at 12:59 pm


lucky for me i’m don’t have to pack lunches yet. bug’s preschool supplies the snack so it’s just mouse’s snack (she always takes water to drink). that said, i still find it a challenge to think of lunch ideas. my kids tend to request the same things over and over again but it’s true, who cares if it’s healthy right?

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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