Imagine that the game Pictionary is played this way:
- A player has 60 seconds to draw a picture (any picture of the player’s choosing), and the other players have to guess what the picture represents.
You’d spend at least half the time trying to come up with an idea for what to draw, right? Despite the enormous database of images probably stored in your head, the pressure to select one on the spot – one you can draw, one others could recognize – would make the game infinitely harder.
Dinner can be that way, overwhelming because of the infinite possibilities – dozens of cookbooks, hundreds (thousands) of websites, endless TV shows. Facing the “What’s for Dinner?” challenge every night can send even the most dedicated home cook straight to the frozen pizza aisle or drive-thru line. One way to make dinner manageable is to develop a routine – taco Tuesday, meatless Monday, etc. But if the routine becomes a rut then you’ll find yourself back at square one.
For the past five years I’ve written weekly dinner menus for my family. In 2013 I started publishing them on my writing blog, jenny’s lark, usually tagging a menu plan onto the end of a weekly essay. At the beginning, the menu plan helped eliminate some of our family stress because it took the overwhelming guesswork out of nightly dinner. In preparing the plans I’ve spent a fair amount of time browsing the gamut of cooking and recipe sites, from Epicurious and Food Network to indie personal blogs.
As my children have grown older and as our tastes in food have evolved, what we more often need is an inspiration for nightly cooking. Hence dinner prompts, ideas that start with flavors or moods and lead to something specific.
Like a writing prompt, intended to get the words flowing, dinner prompts are meant to be idea generators, themes that focus your food thinking. Each prompt includes words to get you in the frame of mind, suggested foods & flavors, recipe links that I’ve tried and liked, ideas for searching other cooking sites.
Have a suggestion or a prompt to share? Drop a comment.