What should I eat for supper? The question is tossed around the dinner table by people who are bored to death with eating fast food. Dinnertime becomes monotonous and routine when burgers and fries, pizza or fried chicken is the mainstay of most American families. There are many different entrees, side dishes, and desserts you can choose for supper. You may have your family recipes for all of these meals, but do you know which one is best for you? Where do you begin when trying to figure this out?
Supper was originally a secondary lighter evening meal. The main meal of the day, called dinner, used to be served closer to what is known as lunchtime, around the middle of the day, but crept later over the centuries, mostly over the course of the 19th century. When dinner was still at the early time, eating a lighter supper in the evening was very common; it was not always the last meal of the day, as there might be a tea later. Reflecting the typical custom of 17th century elites, Louis XIV dined at noon, with a supper at 10p.m. Even when dinner was in the early evening, supper was served at, or on return from, a ball, and might be after other evening excursions. At an English ball in 1791, supper was served to 140 guests at 1:00 a.m. They would all have had dinner at home many hours earlier, before coming out. Other, grander, balls served supper even later, up to 3:30 a.m., at a London ball given in 1811 by the Duchess of Bedford.
The modern usage of “supper” varies considerably; sometimes supper is still used to describe a light snack or meal in the evening, either after or instead of dinner, but often it replaces dinner as the term for the main evening meal.
What should I cook for supper tonight? Meal-planning for the rest of us.
You just got home from work. Before you even get in the door, you hear, “What are we having for supper?” They say, “I’m hungry,” or even worse, they start having a meltdown because they are ‘hangry’. Or, let’s be honest, you start snapping or having a breakdown because you need food NOW.
The worst part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook every day.
I’ll admit, that could be an overstatement. But it sure feels like that sometimes, doesn’t it?
Here are 4 ways to solve that annoying problem of what to cook for dinner. Whether you are a planner or a rebel, one of these is sure to help.
The weekly meal plan
Well, this isn’t much of a surprise, so I’ll get it out of the way first. Having a weekly meal plan solves the question of what to make for dinner.
Post it on the fridge and anyone in the house can go look at the plan to know exactly what you’re cooking. But there are a few ways to make this plan even better.
Keep your meal plans
If you post a piece of paper on the fridge, instead of writing on a whiteboard, you can save them for later. On the weeks you feel particularly uninspired or don’t have time to plan, simply pull out an old plan and use that. Bonus points for keeping the shopping list on the same paper too!
Personally, I have a cute little whiteboard on my fridge with the days of the week. I write the plan in a coil-bound notebook and transfer the plan onto the whiteboard.
But I’ll be real, sometimes, I just don’t get around to planning ahead of time. Those week, I write down what we make as we go. That way I know how long those leftovers have been sitting in the fridge!
Take family activities into account
If you have an evening event, you’ll want to plan something that is quick to make. It is very easy to overlook this point, so be sure to check your calendar. It will save your wallet from unplanned meals out!
Check the plan in the morning or the night before
Do you need to pull something out of the freezer? Will you need to stop at the store to pick something up? You’ll want to know that before you start cooking.
Make use of leftovers
Bonus points for making extra to use another night! A simple example of this would be making extra chicken breasts to use in a sandwich or salad the following day or two. (This is also a great strategy for those nights you don’t have time to cook!)
If you know that it is impossible to make a small batch of chilli, use that to your advantage. You can have leftovers the next night, or freeze the leftovers for a quick meal in the future. Your future self will thank you.
Theme nights are a great way to simplify a weekly menu. It’s also nice when you want a plan before going to the store buy you don’t know what goodies you’ll find (farmer’s markets anyone?).
You get to pick the themes based on the types of food you like to cook and eat, but some examples are:
- Soup Sunday
- Meatless Monday
- Fish Friday
There are so many options to choose from:
- Kid’s choice
- New recipe
How do I pick what themes to use
One great way would be to list out all the meals that you cook often or enjoy. Then look to see what groups you have. They could be based on:
- ingredients (fish, chicken, etc),
- the type of dish (soup, salad, casserole, etc), or
- the flavour group Tex-Mex, Greek, etc).
This is also a great way to see the variety in your usual meals – Or more accurately, where you don’t have variety. For example, if all your meals include meat, maybe you would want to try a bean-based vegetarian dish. Or you have no soups but you want to learn how to make comforting soup for the coming winter.
This is a very rebel-friendly type of planning. People who have a strong rebellious streak tend to struggle with a typical meal plan. The thought of having each meal planned in advance is stifling.
This style is also great for people who don’t have a lot of structure in their week.
Simply list out the meals that you could cook (and enjoy) based on the food that is currently in your kitchen. Then when you start getting ready to prepare supper, look at the list and see what sounds the tastiest.
The downside to this style of planning is that you don’t necessarily have any prep time built in. If your meat is frozen or you’re planning to use dried beans, it will take longer to make the meal. If you’re going this way, you may want to make your decision at least a couple hours before you want to cook. That will give time for the frozen meat to thaw, or you could do a quick soak of beans by boiling them.
You could get around that downside when you combine this planning style with recipe formulas.
Ideas for a Simple Healthy Snack Supper
I didn’t coin the phrase Snack Supper, I got the idea from Vicki Farris’ book A Mom Just Like You which I highly recommend. Im pretty sure she brought it up for lunches on busy homeschool days, but we use it mostly for supper on days when we don’t want to cook, on days when it is just too hot to cook, and on days when we have lots and lots of fresh produce that needs eaten quick. We focus on quick, easy and HEALTHY Snack ideas which together make a fun and healthy meal!
The Snack Supper is a great way to get a meal to the table fast. Veggies, fruit, protein and even a few carbs… This is very kid-friendly eating and your kids of getting lots of fresh and raw fruits and veggies. It’s a win-win! Here are some of things we use in our snack suppers at the Blevins house.
- Deviled eggs
- Red pepper slices
- Celery with nut butter or ranch dip
- Apple slices
- Cheeses – any kind – sliced. We like to try new cheeses as a special treat!
- Summer sausage, hard salami, or soft salami
- Deli meats
- Melon slices
- Various whole grain crackers
- French bread or other deli loaf
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Ranch dressing
- Sliced cucumber (sometimes soaked in salt water)
- Sliced zucchini
- Baked crunchy peas, beans, or corn
- Salted avocado slices
- Cheese spread or homemade cheeseball
- Cottage cheese
- Frozen fruit
- Dried fruits
- Candied fruits
- Fruit salad
Quickest and Easiest Suppers
We scoured our recipe archive for the best of our Quick & Easy dinner ideas. These menus ensure you’ll never get take-out again.
Recipe: Muffuletta Calzones (pictured)
Recipe: Sausage-and-Cheese Calzones
Recipe: Cheesy Mexican Calzones
These mouthwatering, easy meals are so simple to make and perfect for satisfying weeknight dinners.
Recipe: Ginger-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Recipe: Sweet Carrots and Rice
Green onions garnish Ginger-Glazed Pork Tenderloin over Sweet Carrots and Rice. Try the pork chop variation too.
Recipe: Antipasto Pizza
Recipe: Chicken Fajita Pizza
Recipe: Seafood Alfredo Pizza
One taste of these fresh pies will have you saying “That’s Amore.”
Recipe: One-Pot Pasta (pictured)
Recipe: Italian Tossed Salad
Recipe: Basil-Garlic Bread
One-Pot Pasta uses the convenience of your favorite prepared spaghetti sauce and refrigerated cheese-stuffed ravioli.
Recipe: Raspberry-Barbecue Chicken
Recipe: Sautéed Squash and Zucchini
Recipe: Quick Parmesan Couscous
Seedless preserves, Dijon mustard, and a touch of vinegar is stirred into bottled barbecue sauce to make a tangy glaze for Raspberry-Barbecue Chicken. Serve with Quick Parmesan Couscous and Sautéed Squash and Zucchini.
Recipe: Tex-Mex Salisbury Steak
Recipe: Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Recipe: Zesty Green Beans
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Zesty Green Beans accompany Tex-Mex Salisbury Steak, which is covered in a quick, delicious sauce that uses gravy mix.
Pesto-Crusted Grilled Cheese
(pictured) Recipe: Hot Buttery Brie MeltsRecipe: Grilled Pimiento CheeseRecipe: Cuban Grills
A deliciously gooey grilled cheese sandwich is quite possibly the quickest comfort food.
Soup and Sandwiches
Recipe: Toasted Club Sandwiches (pictured)
Recipe: Chunky Vegetable Soup
A terrific relaxed meal that’s just right for tonight, a shopping day lunch, or a weekend supper.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Spinach Enchiladas (pictured)
Recipe: Dressed-Up Refried Beans (pictured)
When you’re in the mood for Tex-Mex, this is the dinner to make. From kitchen to table, it takes about an hour, and half of that is hands-off baking or cooking time. I like to make a few pans of enchiladas and keep them in the freezer for this busy month. They will bake from the totally frozen state to piping hot in just one hour.
Porcini Mushroom Tortelloni With Wilted Greens
CREDIT: PHOTO: BETH DREILING HONTZAS
Recipe: Porcini Mushroom Tortelloni With Wilted Greens
Hearty Porcini Mushroom Tortelloni With Wilted Greens is a satisfying meal. You may substitute a four-serving size of a preferred flavor of dried or refrigerated tortelloni.
Black Bean Chili
Recipe: Black Bean Chili (pictured)
Recipe: Meaty Black Bean Chili
These hearty warm recipes are ready in under 30 minutes! We bet you’ll make them as often as we do.