Mystie Winckler, a homeschooling mama of 5 created a system for herself after her third child was born that simplified menu planning and grocery shopping . That system turned into Simplified Dinners. Simplified Dinners is a 30 page e book with guideline style recipes that uses very basic pantry staples. The cookbook was designed 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 cookbook includes the "Master Pantry" list that you can print off. Each recipe type starts off with a basic process then lists specific recipe variations. Meal types include:
Slow Cooker Roasts (with 8 different variations)
Slow Cooker, No Defrost Chicken Pieces (6 different variations)
Chicken-in-a-pot- (4 different variations)
Skillet Cutlets with Pan Sauces (pork, chicken, fish, beef with 6 different sauces)
Marinades for Grilling, Broiling, Pan-frying (12 different)
Foil Packet Fish (3 different)
Stovetop Pasta Dishes (6 different)
Bean Pots (6 different)
Fajitas (lists different meats, veggies, garnishes)
Quesadillas (lists different cheeses, veggies, meats, seasonings)
Taco Bar (meats and beans, veggies, other additions)
Burritos or Enchiladas (3 variations)
Taquitos (3 variations)
Flexible Frittata (different veggies, cheeses, meat)
Oven Omelette (lists many different veggies, cheeses, meats)
Homemade Pizza (lists sauces, toppings, and 6 different combinations)
Simple Stir Fry (5 different sauces,several meats and veggie variations)
Baked Potato Dinner
Bean Soups (9 different variations)
Stews (6 different variations)
Blended Vegetable Soups (5 different variations)
Quick and Easy Soups (5 different)
Main Dish Salads (6 different)
Quick and Easy Side Dish Vegetables (glazed, roasted, frozen)
Side Dish Salads (5 different dressings)
Side Dish Starches (11 different)
Download a sample by clicking here.
Simplified Dinners is also available in a gluten free dairy free version. Simplified Dinners is available as an e book for only $12.99. I have been reading mine off of my iPad, but if you prefer a printed version, you can easily print it out yourself and put in in a notebook.
When I first read the Why Simplify and Introduction to the cookbook, I thought, why have I never thought of this before? Menu planning straight from the pantry, what a great idea! So many times I have bought ingredients for just one recipe and never used it again, or I have been so frustrated to find a recipe that sounds good only to not be able to find the specialty ingredients it requires. Or I would have to buy a ton of special ingredients for just one recipe and one meal would costs a small fortune!
I started out using this cookbook by printing off the Master Pantry list. Then I crossed out the things I knew we would not eat (like canned clams.) After that I took inventory(I even rearranged my cabinets for the occasion, a much needed task!) of what I had on hand and crossed those things out. I wrote a few things at the bottom of the list that we would need (household supplies, breakfast, lunches, and some snacks) and took that list shopping. I made out a tentative month long menu using meals from the Simplified Dinners cookbook. We did have one take out meal already planned.
My first week's menu looked like this (we get paid on Fridays so my week runs Friday-Thursday):
Friday- homemade pizza
Saturday- fruited chicken over rice, biscuits
Sunday- roasted cauliflower soup
Monday- fettucine alfredo, salad
Tuesday- taco salad
Wednesday- Sweet and Sour Pork chops, baked potatoes, broccoli, applesauce
Thursday- take -out
|Fruited Chicken over Rice, Biscuits|
I did not have trouble finding any of the ingredients I needed at the store. The recipes were very easy to follow. The food was easy to make, and it was delicious! I don't think I have ever made something so easy as the Fruited Chicken, and I got to use the leftovers on sandwiches for lunch the next day. I have to admit too, that her biscuit recipe tasted much better than mine! I really like the flexibility of meal planning this way. Simplified Dinners gives you lots of basic recipes to start off with and quite a bit of variations to choose from. There is a lot of food packed into this little cookbook! As you get used to the idea of planning from your pantry, you can build on and expand your bank of recipes even further.
The author does list her sample winter menu plan in the back of the book along with a blank menu plan for you to fill out. I do wish she had included samples of how she uses the cookbook for all the different seasons.
I would definitely recommend Simplified Dinners to those of you who would like to simply your cupboards, menu planning, and shopping.
Would you like to win a copy? Leave me a comment below with a way for me to get in touch with you, like an email address. Giveaway will close at 11:59 pm on Friday April 12, 2013. Winner will be drawn using random.org.