As a family of 6, it’s not always easy for us to decide what to make for dinner. Initially, we did a lot of internet searches like “dinner ideas” and “recipes for dinner.” Then Pinterest and Yummly came along, and well,, that sort of helped I guess, but the actual answer came in a simple system. I give credit to my husband as his commitment to rotating protein and starch choices is really what gave rise to it’s creation. So, here it is, how to know what to make for dinner every night—the easy way.
Step 1: Make a protein and starch list.
The point of the what to make for dinner system is not to make a list of foods and rotate them, that would get boring just have meatloaf night, and taco night, and so on. It isn’t a menu. Rather build a list of proteins and starches you use. For our family, for example, our protein list includes beef, pork, chicken, and fish (less often as I’m not a fish person) and our starch list includes bread, potatoes, rice, tortillas, and noodles.
Step 2: Rotate your dinner list.
The second step is just to start on a protein, start on a starch, and rotate them.
Say tonight you had beef burritos. Your protein was beef, your starch was tortilla. So, the next night you can choose any protein from your list and any starch but beef and tortilla. You pick baked chicken and rice. So, now you can pick any protein and any starch but beef, chicken, rice, and tortilla. You pick pork steaks and baked potatoes. The following night you are left with one protein choice, fish, and can choose from noodles or bread for your starch. You choose tuna, peas, and noodles. This leaves you one starch, bread, and your back on beef for your protein. Now choosing what to make for dinner just became much easier. You have narrowed your dinner recipe field to a protein and starch.
As you can see once you get this rotating and have used your list of protein and starches once, you’ll always only have one option each night. As for most of us the list of proteins is shorter than the list of starches, this prevents the starch proteins from lining up the same every time.
You certainly don’t have to religiously follow this pattern, but it helps on nights when you’re just sort of stuck and can’t decide what to make for dinner. You can just think back and find the starch protein pattern item your on. If you like, you can even build a list or recipes for each protein and starch category to choose from, and add to it as you find new and interesting dinner recipes to try.
How do you decide what to make for dinner? If you try our system please let us know if it helps!