I realize that not everyone is as blessed as I am in that my husband is not super picky about the food put on the table. But, it has still taken me 2+ years to realize that as long as there is food on the table and as long as its edible and filling (being tasty is a perk, but not a necessity!), I don't have to cook something different every night. It has also taken me far too long to understand that NOT eating something different every night is an excellent way to save money on my grocery bill.
I have experimented to find the best way to put variety in our weekly dinner menu without spending too much time cooking. Here are a few things I'm trying to put into practice.
1. When possible, plan your meals at least a week in advance. You don't have to go out and purchase the groceries immediately, but start thinking about what you might like to eat.
2. Make 3 different dinners for the week, allowing enough for plenty of left overs. I alternate dinners as such: Mon&Thu, Tue&Fri, Wed&Sat. Sunday, we fend for ourselves most of the time.
3. Do most, if not all of your cooking on one day. For example, if I'm making soup with bread, rice with veggies and Mexican pizzas, I'll start the soup, cook the rice in my rice cooker and begin cooking the pinto beans for the Mexican pizzas on Monday morning. I may only get the soup completed on Monday, but I have the beginnings of my other two dinner alternates started. Basically, get the bulk of the cooking out of the way in one day, if possible.
4. Another great way of making meals stretch is to add sides. I recently bought a large box of locally grown apples at the natural foods store. I've started cutting up 1-2 apples and serving them with dinner. They are a great, healthy filler. You can also use bread, or veggies as your side and generally these are cost efficient. Frozen veggies tend to be less expensive than fresh, but are healthier than canned. Making your own bread is more time consuming, but is notably cheaper.
5. If you make enough servings of each dish, send some of the left overs with your husband for lunch the next day. Trust me, he will appreciate it. :)
Here is my dinner menu for this week, just to offer some ideas.
Monday and Thursday: Minstrone soup with whole wheat bread and apples
Tuesday and Friday: Millet (my new favorite grain), steamed broccoli and apples
Wednesday and Saturday: Mexican pizzas and apples