In a Dinner Rut? Some Quick Fixes

Are you tired of eating – and cooking – the same exact meals night after night, week after week?  Does it feel like you could cook each night with your eyes closed?

Here are some easy solutions:

 (1)  Re-create your restaurant favorites

Let’s face it.  We often eat out because need a break from cooking.  But, we also eat out because we like the food.  Yesterday, I had no idea what to make for dinner and thought about some favorite meals when I go out.  I really enjoy a lot of restaurant salads and decided to re-create Barbecued Chicken Salad, a meal I have ordered at several different restaurants.  It’s always on a base of regular house salad – lettuce, cucumber, tomato, shredded cheese.  Then, there’s usually corn and black beans, so I open up a can of each of those (and rinsed the beans).  Then, I coated 2 chicken breasts with a favorite barbecue sauce and grilled them on the George Foreman grill.  To top it off, I put a little barbecue sauce in to a bowl with ranch dressing.  Voila!  I had barbecue ranch dressing without having to buy an entire specialty bottle.  I also made my version of California Pizza Kitchen’s BLT pizza a couple weeks ago.  It was just as tasty, a ton cheaper, and added some variety to our dinner menu.

Try re-creating some of your favorite restaurant meals at home.  Think about the different toppings you have had on pizzas, the different ways you have seen pasta prepared, and the restaurant sandwiches you really enjoy.  Bring those in to your own kitchen.

(2)  Flip through those cookbooks

If you’re anything like me, you have a huge stack of cookbooks.  Open one of them, and flip through it.   You don’t have to make anything in it, but I find it tends to help me generate a lot of ideas to help mix things up.  I may see 2 ingredients combined in a way I never would have thought of, such as a pork and nectarine stir fry I came across.  Sometimes, I also come across a recipe that will remind me of a dish I used to make, before I entered my current rut.

(3)  Turn on the TV

I can’t watch the Food Network for a half hour without seeing some new technique or cooking method that I have never tried.  I have picked up such ideas as roasting cherry tomatoes to put on salads or pasta and boiling green beans with my pasta (same water at the same time) and then tossing them both with pesto.  (Although mine comes from a jar, not a food processor.  Sorry, Rachael!)

(4)  Take matters in to your own hands

I have a friend who recognized she was in a rut and asked for help.  She sent out a note to several of her mom friends on Facebook and asked us what we have been cooking lately.  She asked us to send her recipes for favorites in our own rotations that she could add to hers.  Not only did we help her out, but we also got to read what everyone else was making to expand our own cooking repertoire.

I also subscribe to daily emails from

These recipes have been posted by home cooks, and many of them are reviewed.  They feature a recipe each day, and at least half of them seem worth trying.  I love having new recipes to try, and I love it even more when they’re tried and true successes.

These methods certainly work for me!  Have your own tips or methods?  Please feel free to share them here! 

WFMW: Ending Nighttime Diaper Leaks

We are a disposable diaper family.  More specifically, we are a Pampers family.  Both of our girls wore Pampers Swaddlers as infants and moved up to Pampers Cruisers.  And, disposable diapers have worked really well for us.  Except at night. 

Nighttime solution for The Big Cheese

They worked really well for The Big Cheese until she was almost 2, and then, she started waking up every morning with both wet sheets and wet pants.  During the day, she never had any leaks, so we sought out something just for nighttime.  We discovered Pampers Extra Protection.  They are wonderful!  They are like regular Pampers diapers, but they are more absorbent.  Even the characters on the diapers are sleeping or wearing pajamas.

The Bugster started leaking at nighttime at closer to a year.  I immediately went to the store for some Extra Protection diapers –only to find out the smallest size is a 4.  The Bugster only wears a Size 3.  So, we decided to put her in a regualr Size 4 diaper at night.  It’s bigger by just enough to be absorbent throughout the night without too much extra bulk.

Two different solutions, and they both led to dry nights.  Now, THAT works for me!

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday: Conserve Water

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

In honor of Earth Day, here is a tip for conserving water. Place a bucket under the faucet while you are waiting for the water to warm up before your shower. I use this water for mopping, watering plants or filling the toilet tank. Simple but effective.
Conserve Water

Recycle your water

The Librarian

Myspace Comments
And thank you to everyone who entered our Giveaway! The lucky winner is…(obligatory drum roll)

Maria D. at Downright Domesticity! Congratulations Maria! Shoot us an email at GenXMomsBlog@gmail.com to claim your prize. And for everyone else–keep an eye on this spot for future giveaways!

Our unbiased judge carefully selects the winner

For more great tips, visit:

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Conveniently Green–Going Green the Easy Way

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Today’s post is a combination Conveniently Green and Works For Me Wednesday!

Nobody wants to destroy the environment, but going green can seem so daunting and, let’s face it, inconvenient. That’s why over here on Gen X Moms, we’re going green conveniently. But where do you start? So many ways to go green, so little time. Luckily at Gen X Moms, we have a handy little motto: Just a Little Bit Less. Here’s the easy way:

Step 1. Take a look at your trash.

No, not in your trash. That’s disgusting. Look at your trash. What are you throwing away that can potentially be reused or replaced with a reusable substitute? Keep in mind that we’re just in the evaluation stage. You’re not committing to anything. So what do you have in there that could be reused or replaced? Ziploc bags? Paper towels? Clorox wipes?

Step 2. Take a look at the trash you throw away outside of the house

You know, in the car, on a playdate, at a picnic–what are you leaving behind? Paper napkins? Take and Toss kidware? Plastic grocery sacks? Juice boxes? Again, no commitment here. Make a list, if you’re a list-making person. Otherwise just keep it all in your head. If you can. Which I usually can’t.

Step 3. Take a look at your cleaning supplies

Are there lots of yucky chemicals in your cabinet? Have you seen “green” versions at the store? Are you making your own?

Step 4. Identify your non-negotiables

Here’s the thing–we all have non-negotiables. I’m pretty darned crunchy, but you will have to pry my clothes dryer out of my cold, dead hands. Yes, I know all of the advantages of line-drying my laundry (save money! and energy! better for your clothes!), but seriously–I’m going to roll out of my deathbed, crawl to the dryer, and die right there in my laundry closet with my arms around my Maytag. That’s one of my non-negotiables. What are yours? Maybe you can’t live without your Ziploc bags or your juice boxes. Hey, that’s okay. We all have limits.

Step 5. After eliminating your non-negotiables, pick one remaining item and do it ONCE.

Now here’s the key to going green the easy way. Don’t make a big commitment. This isn’t a cell phone contract. Pick one thing and think about our motto–Just a Little Bit Less. Say, for example, you picked paper towels. Your goal will be to use one fewer paper towel than you normally would. Because hey, if you use a dishtowel to clean up a spill one time, that’s one fewer paper towel in the trash, one fewer off the roll, and one little piece of change in your pocket.

Then pat yourself on the back–you’re going green the wasy way! The idea is to make things conscious. When you reach for something you would normally throw away, take just a second and think, “Hmm, in this one, single instance, can I use something else?” A lot of times your answer will be no, but sometimes your answer will be yes, and sometimes is better than no times. Just strive for one! Don’t be intimidated! Everybody can do one!

And once you’ve got one down, strive for two. Or three. Or all. Or hey, just stick with one. The environment will thank you either way.

Works for me! For more great tips, visit Works For Me Wednesday:

Works-For-Me Wednesday

The Scrivener

Can’t get enough of the Scriv? Follow me on Twitter!

Works for Me Wednesday: Hotel Freebies

Gen X Moms has moved to www.GenXMomsBlog.com. Don’t forget to update your bookmark!

Disrespect a hotel reservationist and you may find yourself in the tiniest room in the joint, right next to the noisy elevator with a great view of the dumpster in the back parking lot. That is if you are able to score a room at all!  The flipside of this is that most people who work in reservations really do appreciate a little kindness and will go out of their way to help you.  I’ve had really good luck with the latter approach.  Here’s what you do if you know the place you want to stay but can only afford the bare minimum. 

Check internet rates first.  Sometimes the best offers are web-based only.  Before you book, try also calling the hotel directly and cross check rates they offer.  This will also give you the opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for whether it is a busy time for them.  Perhaps your dates are flexible and you can switch plans accordingly.  Use your politest voice, be honest and tell them you must book for the lowest price but be sure to mention whether you are celebrating anything in particular.  If booking online, sometimes just a nice e-mail in the special request box will do.  The agent will make a note of this and it will sometimes get you little extras.  Just by doing this I have gotten free wine, cake, special views and big room upgrades. 

Sign up for any special hotel clubs.  Sign up is free and usually involves just a couple of minutes to fill out an online form but it can get you special attention if you are a member.  This could be anything from free internet access to express check in privileges.  It could get you parking discounts in big cities, free travel kits, free passes to the gym, etc. 

Once you have booked, follow up with a call just a few days before you arrive.  Talk about how excited you are about your visit and ask if they expect the hotel to be booked during your stay.  If the answer is no, request a complimentary upgrade if at all available.  Tell the agent you are traveling with a little one and explain that even a little bit of extra space would make all the difference to you and your family.  This has almost always worked for me, whether it is the Holiday Inn or the Westin.  God bless those reservation agents, they really do want you to enjoy yourself and spread the good word about your stay!  Don’t forget to leave a positive comment card praising the name of the person who helped you.  Happy travels!

The Librarian

Works-For-Me Wednesday