Sunday, December 29, 2013

100 Nights of Dinner at Home: Introduction

It's a new year and do you know what that means for the PatsycakeBaby household?  It's our family tradition - a new year resolution of sorts and it's called: 100 Nights of Dinner at Home.  Basically the title says it all - we eat dinner at home, every night for 100 nights in a row starting on New Year's Day. 
This year, I've decided to take on the challenge of blogging about this experience. Through the years so many of my friends and family have asked me to help them start this tradition with their families. So, I will make my best attempt to lead your family through this challenge!

So, here it goes - the first in a series of posts called: 100 Nights of Dinner at Home!


100 nights of dinner at home?
"I'm a very busy WAHM with two hungry kids and a very hungry husband. I barely have time to defrost ground beef."
HA! it's all in the planning.  I know there are families with lots more kids, lots more activities and maybe NO cooks willing to take on the challenge.  EXACTLY - a challenge, a resolution. Not just a personal resolution but a family resolution.

We do this for several reasons. We start on New Year's Day every year. After the crazy holidays and lots of junk food and eating out, it just makes sense to us.  We try to eat healthy and cut down on the budget a bit since feeding a family of four in a restaurant can be a crazy "waste" of money. We like to cook, and we love to gather as a family to eat, and that is probably the most important reason of all.

Yes, we are a health conscious family. 
Yes, we are (and have other) great cooks in our family. 
Yes, we have our own garden and home raised meat. 

But, that doesn't mean you can't follow along with your means whatever they are. 
Nobody said anything about only eating healthy - we just know it's overall healthier to eat at home as opposed to eating in restaurants. 
Nobody said anything about cheap - Have you seen the cost of groceries????
Nobody said anything about the police coming to arrest you if you cheat (LOL!)

Can you follow along and make a commitment that works for your family? ABSOLUTELY!
I've had friends follow along with a commitment of dinner at home 5 nights a week, or 6 nights. It will only work if you have a commitment you can work with.

How do you start?
First check out the next post called The Basics (it will be up in a couple of days - sorry I'm writing as I go so check back for the update). and stock up that pantry with basics so even if you can't think of ANYTHING to cook or only have a few minutes to cook - you will have easy stuff on hand to whip up so you don't skip a beat.
Second, get your recipes and ideas in order. (I will be posting as many links and ideas as I can while we go)
Third, plan your meals. This is SO important. you can take things out of the freezer on Sunday or Monday and try to be as prepared as you can. Get that slow cooker down you will be using it (and I don't like the slow cooker, but I use whatever tools I need to get through this!).

Lastly, don't let an oops get you down. If you "cheat" and go to dinner just pick up the next day and keep going.

The "Rules"
Ok, these are MY family's rules.  This is how we run our 100 nights.
1. Plan meals in advance
2. Acceptable variances are:
 - Parties: eat and eat to your hearts content it's a Free night!
 - Free Dinner: if someone offers you a free dinner at a restaurant TAKE IT! it's a freebie!
 - Dinner at someone else's house: Yay! Grandma's cooking, freebie!!!
 - If your birthday falls in the 100 nights and you choose to go out to eat this is considered a freebie - my birthday is January 4th YES!!!! because you get what you want for your birthday ;)
3. If you cheat and go out to dinner other than the reasons above ADD ONE NIGHT to the 100 nights - hey mistakes happen and it can be a do-over.
4. Have fun as a family and make the best of it.  Eating at home is not meant to be a miserable experience.

Basic Tips:

1. (again) Plan meals either weekly or monthly it's up to you and how you shop! Plan whole meals with sides and you can even do weekly themes - this helps with shopping. For instance: Greek Week you can have Gyros, lemon chicken, etc and make up a big batch of Tzaziki sauce and chop up all the veggies at once.
2. Have easy cook meals on hand so you don't waiver in your commitment. ie: spaghetti, pizza, breakfast, potstickers....
3. Keep a Pinterest board like the one I use: Kim's Pinterest Board and I heart Recipes.  Ask for recipe ideas from others using Facebook or ask at groups. I also love : I've tried LOTS of their recipes and they have all been pretty good!
4. Lay out the plan to your family and friends, the more support you have the better you will do!
5. Have fun and Share pics of your food - Facebook, Instagram, blog, whatever - Everyone Loves Food!!!
6. Try something new - we always incorporate a vegetarian dish, an ethnic dish, a gluten free dish...just to name a few and they are ALWAYS a hit!
7. Follow this blog - if you want to encourage anyone - encourage me to keep writing these for you! And Thank you for following along!

Have fun, eat well, and be merry.

Happy New Year!!
Some of last years dinners:
Lasagna Dinner Bake

Delicious Recipe!

Home Made Bread YUM!

Fish and Chips

Chicken and Veggie Bake

Ramen Night

Baked Bok Choy

Shrimp Broil

Meatless Burgers
Beet Salad
Veggie Stir Fry

Citrus Salad

Kale soup with beans 

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