General Question

The_Inquisitor's avatar

What helps you decide what to cook or eat for each meal?

Asked by The_Inquisitor (3141 points ) November 28th, 2010

Just curious as to how you guys decide what to cook for each meal all the time?

My mom seems to run out of ideas sometimes. Do you rotate different kinds of foods and stuff, or do you keep finding new recipes, or do you even just have particular days to cook particular foods? Or do you just roam the grocery stores and stock up with foods at home, and then make something with the food bought?

How do you decide what to eat? Or how does your mom, or dad (if you’re still living with them and don’t decide on meals yourself)?

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20 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

Most of the time, we have certain things that we always have stocked in our house. Those would be the ingredients for spaghetti, tacos, chili dogs, soup/sandwiches, and a few other things I’m drawing a blank on right now. Then we plan additional things to have in between those things.

Before we go grocery shopping, we sit down as a family and talk about what we’d like to eat. Sometimes we have a lot of ideas, other times, not so many. Then we go grocery shopping and if we need some more ideas for meal, we’ll look around to see if anything else sounds good to us.

Right now, I have so many cravings that they tend to dictate what we eat. Tonight I’m making meatball sandwiches. :-)

phoebusg's avatar

I use http://spaz.ca/cronometer/ to keep track of what I eat. So I decide based on what nutrients I may be low on. Balancing out my diet. But that actually allows for a lot of freedom – and setting targets. Using this tool in conjunction with a nutritionist works best.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I eat the same breakfast almost every day.Lunches and dinners are similar too,unless I go out to eat.I am not creative in the kitchen and don’t care if I ever am ;)

marinelife's avatar

What I make depends on what I have on hand to some extent. What I have on hand depends on what I bought at the store, which depends somewhat on sales.

Kardamom's avatar

I read a lot of food related magazines and keep a catalogued recipe book filled with recipes that I would like to try. And the food section of the newspaper is a good resource too.

I keep a lot of staples on hand in the pantry so that I can whip up something pretty easily. Some of my staples include canned beans, dried pasta, jarred pasta sauce, canned low-salt diced tomatoes, jarred sun-dried tomatoes, cous cous, dried split peas, rice, boxed tabouli mix, olives, diced green chilies, canned enchilada sauce, jarred salsa, olive oil and several kinds of vinegar (usually balsamic, rice vinegar and red wine, plus organic unfiltered apple-cider vinegar which I keep in the fridge) and a fully stocked spice rack.

In the freezer I keep cheese (which we get in bulk at Costco, then cut it down into smaller sizes and keep in freezer bags—cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella) pre-made pizza shells, bread and rolls, bags of frozen vegetables like edamame, corn (either in the bag or on the ear) etc. and frozen big bags of strawberries and mango, frozen pie crusts (for sweet pies or quiche) and both corn and flour tortillas. I’m a vegetarian, but my Mom keeps all kinds of frozen meat in the freezer as well such as chicken breasts, ground turkey and steak. We will often purposely make extra soup, stew or chili and then freeze it flat in freezer bags so it can be easily stacked.

When I’m using fresh produce, I try to think of several different recipes in which I can use the same item, so it’s less likely to go to waste. For example, I made a raw kale salad with beets, then I put some kale into some enchiladas and another time I made a garlic kale soup. With the beets, they were in the raw kale salad and then the next day I roasted some beets and rutabagas and carrots. You kind of have to think a little bit ahead and maybe write your weekly/monthly menu down so you can use what you have, or use all of something and not let it go to waste.

We definitely have our easy go to recipes—pizza, enchiladas, pasta and chili, but I try to think of new things to try, or different ways to prepare the old standards. And I always try to think about eating a healthy and balanced meal. Soup is one of my favorite things to make because there are so many different kinds. Ones that I have made recently are kale, garlic and wheatberry soup, butternut squash soup with Indian spices, and split pea.

If you have a crockpot, the ideas for new and interesting and EASY meals are endless. Check out this site to see the possibilities. There’s also a section for meal planning on this same site if you look on the right side menu.

wundayatta's avatar

I buy ingredients and then decide what to do on any given night depending on what’s available; what we’ve eaten recently; and what I know the kids like or don’t like. I’m always trying different vegetables to see if I can get the kids to go for anything new. They don’t always say thumbs down.

I know cooking techniques from China, Thailand, Mexico, the Middle East, and more, so it’s not hard to think of something to do. Still, often I don’t know what I’m going to do until it’s time to do it.

arturodiaz's avatar

I use the iphone app from allrecipes.com. I’m mexican student so I dont have/like/or can afford some of the americanized ingredientes. For that you just use a little bit of imagination to spice up the stuff. For instance, instead of putting some ketchup on the soup, which for us is extremely weird, I do my own spicy tomato sauce. The same with the weird tortillas americans eat, here we have real ones so we dont have to eat plastic corn.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

@Seaofclouds, awe, that’s cute, getting together as a family to discuss what everyone wants to eat! Good idea! I will do that when I have a family of my own. =D

@Kardamom, ooh nice! My mom has a recipe book too! it’s very handy.

bobbinhood's avatar

I suspect there will come a time that I simply shuffle my recipe cards and draw one. That or let a cookbook simply fall open and make whatever looks most interesting on the page it gives me. I hate making decisions.

YARNLADY's avatar

Quite often, I just type a couple of key ingredients into the Google search and make whatever comes up, or at least get my inspiration from that. I thought I would never find anything for sausage and grapes but I was wrong.

Kardamom's avatar

@YARNLADY Sausage and Grapes? Wow! That sounds like one of those funny British euphemisms for something else. Did you actually make the recipe?

Or else a Fluther version of a good award and a bad award.

Today’s Grape award goes to so and so for having the best question of the day and unfortunately a Sausage award goes to who’s it for having given the most dull answer. I think we should adopt this award system, what do you think?

crisw's avatar

Most of it’s determined by what I get in my CSA (commnity supported agriculture- produce direct from the small family farm) boxes every week.

Hmm…lots of beets this week, so time for roasted beet and goat cheese pizza. Lots of chard and kale means vegetable soup. And so on.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Kardamom Yes, I did, and it was delicious. Surprisingly there are several versions.

lucaswinter's avatar

First, at childhood the family diet has a influence on me.
Second, myself loved things.
Third, the impact of my lover’s diet.
Fourth, the propaganda and guidance of the media and experts.

Jenniehowell's avatar

I have specific goals regarding my health – I have researched what does & doesn’t match those goals & I restrict myself from cheating more than once per week. Keeping my goals in mind I will choose a protein, vegetable etc. that match my goals & then use an app on my iPhone to explore some different recipes that fit the bill. I have a few apps that make searching based on specific ingredients pretty easy. I get to try new things that way & my partner & I will rate them 1 to 5 stars to measure if it’s worth saving the recipe & making again. If we both aren’t 3 or higher the recipe is scrapped & we move on to the next one.

LuminousLight's avatar

I just cook what I can find in the refrigerator. Although, I wouldn’t recommend you doing the same thing. Once I only had mashed potatoes, eggs, yogurt and maple syrup in the fridge. At first it seemed like a great idea. I put in cups and cups of sugar and a bit of salt. I added cinnamon. I was on a roll!
At the end of the day, I had made a pile of mushy, watery, inedible food. Of course, I was smarter than to try eating such a creation but since I didn’t want to waste the food, I decided to feed it to Doofus, my beloved dog.
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May he rest in peace.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

@LuminousLight, you’re an odd one. O_O haha, but I can see your humor. WTF! (Welcome to Fluther!) =D

HungryGuy's avatar

I generally stop at Subway, KFC, or a Chinese place on my way home from work before or after I catch the bus home…

slauren14's avatar

All of the above! Usually I just look at what ingredients I already have. I try to plan out a few meals when I go to the store so that I will have something to make. We do tend to rotate meals (spaghetti, chili, salad, chicken, pork chops, chicken alfredo, soup). Sometimes, when I’m having a hard time deciding, I look up easy recipes online!

Jenniehowell's avatar

@LuminousLight I have decided when I get a dog I will name him Doofus in honor of you & the late great Doofus the 1st.

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