• Before you go grocery shopping: The best time to plan your meals is before you shop for food. Then you can purchase the ingredients you need. (More about how to plan a meal in next weeks’ blog.)
• A day or more before: Thinking about dinner days before you are going to eat it sounds crazy. The main reason is so you can thaw meat in the refrigerator. Thawing meat in the refrigerator is safest way. Depending on what type of meat you are defrosting and how much, the process can take all day, overnight, or more. (Think of a 20-pound turkey, which takes several days.)
• First thing in the morning: After savoring your morning coffee, you might not want to think about, “What’s for dinner?” However, if you aren’t defrosting something in the fridge, starting early in the day is the next best thing. When thawing meat on the counter in a bowl of cold water, check every hour or so. Once it’s defrosted, store in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking.
• An hour before you want to eat: If you have prepared part of your meal using “Mealtime Magic: Delicious Dinners in Half the Time,” you can wait until close dinnertime to begin. The majority of the second and third day recipes of the “Three-Day Plan” in my cookbook are quick and easy and can be prepared in 30 – 60 minutes.
When you think about what to eat before you’re hungry, you’ll make better choices and be able to relax and enjoy dinnertime.