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Easy And Delicious Meals ARE Possible
An Example Of An Easy And Delicious Meal
Sometimes I enjoy cooking, and sometimes I don’t. I have realized now that when I have all the ingredients for a certain recipe, and the prep time is not extravagant, I usually enjoy preparing meals for my family. Basically, if it is easy and delicious, I fall for it. A little prep work makes it feel like you are actually making a meal, versus macaroni and cheese, yet if there is too much prep work involved, the process can seem too long and over stressful.
I have many cookbooks. I have used recipes in these cookbooks, and also tried recipes given to me from other people. The problem with using a traditional cookbook is this: you must first decide what to make, then make your shopping list, and then get everything on your list before you can prepare that meal. It makes more sense to plan more than one meal at a time, which means endless flipping back and forth to find recipes that sound like you and your family may enjoy.
In one word: BOOORING! This process is time consuming and frustrating, and can end up being really expensive. For instance, I used a recipe that called for a tablespoon of seafood seasoning. I did not have this particular seasoning, so I bought a bottle when I was at the store. It still sits on my shelf, minus one tablespoon, as I have found no more recipes since then that call for it. So was the one tablespoon of seasoning worth buying the whole bottle? Since I can no longer remember what recipe it was that I tried and obviously didn’t write it down as a family favorite, my answer is no.
The Kraft Meal Plan
I began my quest to find fast, easy, somewhat healthy meals for my family that wouldn’t break the bank. The first one I tried was Kraft’s 1 Bag, 5 Dinners system. They give you your shopping list, and recipes for five days of meals. Pros of this system:
- I had my shopping list ready to go
- I had five days of meals to prepare
- All the ingredients really did fit in one bag, so shopping was cheap
Cons of this system:
- Every fifth day of these menus, the meal is a boxed dinner, such as Homestyle Mac N Cheese. I was looking for homemade meals, not boxes.
- I really only got four days of meals out of this plan.
- The meals we tried (and we did this for about three weeks) lacked flavor. My hubby is big on wanting his food bursting with flavor, and these meals just didn’t stand up to the test.
In conclusion, the meals were easy and cheap, but I could not keep making them when we were not enjoying them that much.
The Pampered Chef Meal Plan
The next thing I tried was a similar menu idea from Pampered Chef. I had ordered the menu cards a long time before from a party I went to, and had never used them. So I dug them out and tried a week’s worth of recipes.
Pros of PC recipes:
- They included a shopping list.
Really, that’s the only pro I can think of at the moment.
Cons of PC recipes:
- There were many items on the list that were hard to find in my rural area grocery stores. Even the local Wal-Mart didn’t have them. I’m not looking for gourmet meals. We just need filling, healthy, tasty meals.
- We weren’t overly enthusiastic on any of the dishes for flavor.
- They always refer to their own spices, which is annoying. I don’t buy their spices. Luckily, they did have a guide as to how to make these spices yourself, but it made the entire process a bit more annoying.
- The prep time was way off. One night, I needed to make supper before my husband left for work (he worked night shift) and decided to make one that included the phrase “Quick and Easy” in the title. It wasn’t quick OR easy. In fact, the actual prep time was 1 and ½ times what they said it was. My hubby ended up having to go to work before it was done!
Okay, so at this point I was done with lists and meal plans. We started eating the same old same old. Those old favorites that you can make without a cookbook, such as tater tot hot dish, lasagna, and taco salad.
We've Got Fish To Fry
Our Life Changed: Enter Simple And Delicious
Then, I stumbled upon the best discovery of my cooking life: Taste of Home’s Simple and Delicious magazine. I enjoyed Taste of Home’s regular magazine, but wasn’t necessarily over the moon about it. The Simple and Delicious magazine, however, lives up to its name in every way and we have begun eating better because of it.
They absolutely deliver on their name. It is an entire magazine bursting with easy and delicious meals. They really know how to spice foods correctly to ensure they retain and enhance their flavor. The prep times are accurate, and even under-estimated in some cases. And, yes, they include a shopping list for a week’s worth of meals.
Now, we have not LOVED every recipe I have tried from Simple and Delicious. Yet none have been bad enough to throw out, either. Each family and each person has different likes and dislikes, so I can’t guarantee you will love the recipes that I love. However, my children (who are less picky than my husband and I) have eaten all of the meals with no complaints.
Simple and Delicious tries to incorporate veggies into a lot of their meals, which I like and appreciate. I know we don’t eat enough vegetables around here, so adding them into these meals is a great way to sneak a few more in.
The only cons I have run into is that there are still occasionally items called for that I cannot find at my local Wal-Mart. However, I have been able to find them if I try a few different stores. Also, some of the ingredients called for are a bit more expensive than what I usually buy, such as feta cheese. However, each recipe does show the price per serving, so if you think the recipe looks too expensive, you don’t have to make it.
I paid $10 for my first year subscription to Simple and Delicious and we have already made it worth it. My last issue had 262 recipes. I haven’t tried them all, and I won’t, but I love knowing that a quick, easy, and delicious meal is just a few pages away.