Make Dinner Planning Simpler

If out of sight is out of mind, then perhaps the reverse holds true, too: that when we're confronted with frequent visual cues, we'll be more apt to follow through on our good intentions.

I'm talking about dinner here, and the nightly chore so many of us face in deciding what to prepare. The next time you're looking through your pantry, pull out two or three items you'd like to build some dinners around. Stick them right on your counter, where you'll see them as you brew coffee, pack lunches, and wash dishes. They'll serve as reminders and will help spark ideas when it comes to dinner planning throughout the week.

I currently have lentils, black rice, soy sauce, and rice noodles out on my counter, and they stare at me every time I enter the kitchen. The lentils are destined for soup, the black rice will serve as a bed for roasted fish, and the soy sauce and noodles will go into a platter of Asian-style chicken meatballs. Did I know this when I pulled them out? No, not really. But seeing them over the course of two or three days helped me formulate ideas for how to use them. When I go to the store, and when the dinner rush hits, I'll be prepared with my ideas.

Using visual cues can also help you eat more healthfully. If you bought a box of quinoa with the intention of working it into your diet, but you keep it in the depths of your pantry, chances are you're never going to make it. Pluck it out, set it on the counter, and it will stare back at you – a gentle reminder to set you on the path you'd intended all along.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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