If you're like I was, when we first started trying to eat healthy meals at home, our menu of items didn't extend much past grilled chicken, baked fish, and salads...a LOT of salads! I had a collection of cookbooks, but either some of the recipes no longer fit into our new way of eating or we could never agree on what to make or, since we hadn't planned in advance, I didn't have all the ingredients to make an entree anyway. Of course, it didn't help that neither my Hubby nor I have much of an affinity for whipping up our own creations like the master chefs on TV. We were growing bored with the endless parade of grilled meats and salads, so I had to come up with something to avoid going back to eating out or letting old, bad eating habits sneak back in.
Then, it came to me...a recipe lottery! We had plenty of healthy selections that we liked, but we just couldn't agree, so by drawing for a recipe to use the decision is made for us...no battles to decide...no one not getting their way. I went back through my recipe books and wrote down the names of interesting-looking meal ideas on small slips of paper. All the slips are kept in a glass jar, folded in half. Each Saturday morning, before we do our weekly grocery store run, my Hubby and I rotate between who gets to draw out a recipe. Two or three recipes are drawn, depending on what they are: meals, desserts, snacks, and will there be leftovers for lunch. I can easily add ingredient items to the grocery list, so that we have what we need, and this helps us plan out dinners and brown-bag lunches for the week.
We have had to throw out the contents of entire crockpots and woks and saucepans, but more often than not, we have stumbled upon some really tasty, healthy creations! For the good ones, I type the recipe out and add it to our Pugh Family Cookbook, and we now mix in some of the oldies with the lottery selections, during meal planning. We have made everything from chocolate bundt cakes to curried shrimp to hearty pasta dishes to homemade dips and soups, a HUGE change from fresh-grilled-only fare. I don't have to wander the grocery store multiple times a week, trying to find something to eat, while also trying to avoid tempting treats. Even better, to keep the pool going, I no longer buy cookbooks...there are plenty of places to get great recipes without having to shell out money for a whole book. I get free e-newsletters with daily recipes, keep an eye out for recipes featured in magazines, and I regularly checkout cookbooks of all sorts from my library and copy recipes that we want to try. It has been a really fun way for two non-chefs, who love good food but are trying to make healthier eating decisions, to explore and create new foods together! Give it a try!