I’ve learned a lot since writing my first book. Sometimes you try something and it works, and other times not so much.
Two years ago I launched What to Cook for Dinner with Kids. This was not my dream title but I tried a different strategy. I examined what people searched for online and got a list going. At the time about 14,000 people typed in “What to Cook for Dinner.” Hoping my book would eventually show up when people searched this term, I went with the title adding with kids at the end.
It seems like lots of others are vying for this bit of SEO. And while I did reach the first page of Google at one point, it was short-lived. It always bothered me that the title wasn’t something I loved. And the old cover doesn’t clearly show the name as it needs to on sites like Amazon.
So I changed the title to The Family Dinner Solution and picked a new cover. I also made the print book more like a workbook so readers can write directly in it as they go. The idea behind the book is to dig into your family meals and simplify, strategically create new go-to meals, and package it all into a rotation. And it’s all done with growing and changing kids in mind.
Finding Your Own Family Dinner Solution
Although there are 50 recipes in the book, The Family Dinner Solution is more about the “how” of meal planning. The book walks readers step-by-step through the organizing process I developed. But the key is for people to come up with their own family dinner solution.
Sarah worked her way through the book and found a solution that worked for her and her family:
“…it was complicated for me to think it through because my family meals actually fit in 3 categories, not in a neat monthly layout. I have young kids and a husband who’s often home very late or traveling. And we have half custody of a teenager and that changes family meals too. In the end, I made three lists, family dinner (all of us), kids only, and teenager-accepted. Once I cracked that code and realized that I needed something other than days of the week as my structure it was much easier – I made lists of meals that fit in each of the 3 categories and identified a few meals I’d like my family to eat regularly and I’ve been experimenting with those, either by introducing the flavors in other meals or by finding new recipes. I rotate each set of meals but not on a calendar basis, on a rotating basis for the nights I have only the kids etc.
Cari who also went through the process said, “The thing that has stuck with me most is the go-to meals, I realized I didn’t have a huge list. I think I had more before I had to eat gluten-free and before my son was dairy free but hadn’t updated to our new issues. I have had more time the last few months to work on our dinner go-to meals and have a much better list of easy, healthy meals that are more adaptable to our special needs.
Sally who included a post on her site about creating a Family Dinner Formula said, “I love how the meal formula idea simplifies dinner so much and it’s something I now recommend to people who are struggling with meal planning.”
Two years later, I still use this system as you can tell from my dinner rotation posts. I don’t make the exact meals every time, but setting up a rotation each quarter/season allows me to set goals and strategically decide which recipes to work on. Each week I look at what I have planned and cook some of the meals and move others around. Like Cari, I now have a much larger pool of go-to meals compared to before I started. I can spot winner recipes much easier, the kids have made progress cooking and eating, and I’m a happier family cook.
The Organizing Never Ends
I try to go through my cookbook every few months to stay organized (see how I created my cookbook here). This is like simplifying all over again as some meals need to go while others need to be added before I forget about them. I’m guilty of writing down recipes or printing them out with my scribble and randomly sticking them in my cookbook. I have software that allows me to add recipes and print them out neatly, so I need to remind myself to do that.
Really, re-organizing when it comes to family meals never ends. The Family Dinner Solution is all about finding a solution that works for you, which is likely to change as life changes.
Have you found a family dinner solution? Or does your old one need some revamping?