What Shall I Cook for Dinner?

I have found a sensible, easy solution to the daily question “What shall I cook for dinner?” By taking time to make menus, we always have something on hand to fix for dinner.

  1. 1.

    Make a list of the typical meals your family likes to eat. Check to see that nutritional requirements are met, and include special-occasion meals for holidays or birthdays. I came up with 21 different main dishes our family enjoys. Because some nights we eat leftovers or go out, the list really became a month’s worth of meals.

  2. 2.

    Write out the recipes on three-by-five-inch index cards. Place them into a small file box, and keep the box handy in the kitchen.

  3. 3.

    Make a master list of all ingredients needed to make the various meals. Categorize them by heading, such as meats, fresh foods, canned goods, and frozen foods. Write the list on an index card to put in the recipe file, then pull it out when going grocery shopping. It becomes your shopping list.

  4. 4.

    Shop once a month for the basic food items needed for the entire month. After checking to see which ingredients might store well, buy them in quantity when they go on sale and keep them as part of your rotated food storage. By reserving other quick visits to the store for perishable items, you may see savings in your food budget.

  5. 5.

    After you prepare your meal, turn that card around and place it at the back of the file box. This signals that the recipe has been used once that month.Jan Whitley Hansen, Holladay, Utah

After a Spouse Dies

When I became a widower, I received a number of helpful suggestions from caring family and friends:

Guard against discouragement. If you find yourself feeling depressed, do something different. Go for a walk, write a letter, call a loved one, or visit with a cheerful friend. Don’t begin to think you are too old to be needed or useful. A good friend once told me: “I would rather die from a heart attack while helping someone than die while doing nothing!”

Keep things clean. Few things bring on the doldrums quicker than a messy kitchen, unmade beds, and a cluttered house. Spend needed time each day in sorting clutter, paying bills on time, and doing simple but ongoing household tasks.

Work through guilt. Most people who lose a spouse deal with nagging thoughts such as “What did I do wrong?” “Why didn’t we take that trip we planned?” “Perhaps if I had retired sooner …” “If only I had gotten him [or her] to the doctor more quickly!” Let it go. You did the best you knew to do at the time. Turn your thoughts to good memories.

Avoid hurried decisions. Often there is pressure to make hurried decisions, such as selling a house or car, moving, or traveling. Take enough time to carefully consider what is best for you, and don’t allow others to make those decisions.

Keep photos. It isn’t necessary to put away all remembrances of a loved one. Keep photos and keepsakes on display, and be willing to talk with family and friends about them. If you are willing to discuss old times, others will find it easier to talk with you.

Care for yourself and others. Reach out to help others, continue enjoyable hobbies and activities, and search out new ways to get involved. Where there is a need and your circumstances allow, you may wish to help contribute financially to the support of missionaries in your ward or in your family. “Adopt” a missionary or two, and write them regularly, especially those who have little support from home.

Stay active in the Church. In some wards, older members may be given fewer opportunities to serve in traditional callings. This can lead to feelings of no longer being a needed and contributing member of the ward. Stay active anyway, and seek other ways to serve. Accept Church callings that come your way, bear your testimony, read lesson material, offer prayers, and accept each opportunity to contribute. Sometimes a lonely youth needs a special adult friend. Where possible, attend the temple often and spend time doing family history work. If health and other considerations permit, you might check with your bishop about volunteering in one of many needed areas.Eugene M. Larsen, Arvada, Colorado

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

Let Children Know They Count

As a parent, I have often felt there isn’t enough time in a day. I have found, however, that by taking time to follow one easy formula, our family has greatly benefited: participate in one childlike activity each day with the children.

As simple as this may sound, my husband and I have found the rewards for taking time to play with our children more than worthwhile. Playing together has helped eliminate the so-called generation gap while building strong family ties. Family members have become better friends, and communication with our children has improved.

We have enjoyed many and varied spontaneous activities, such as reading a short story by candlelight, playing hide-and-seek, and roasting marshmallows in our fireplace. Once we laid a clean tablecloth on the floor and placed a popcorn popper in the center, removed the lid, and watched the popcorn fly! Other ideas: Take the family and your family photo album up into a tree house and reminisce about good times while looking at the pictures. Play kick-the-can or have a skipping contest. Color together. Have a pillow fight, chew bubble gum, or play basketball. When it rains, grab plastic bags for cover and go for a walk in nature’s wet wonderland.

There is no limit to the list of playful things you can do. Children have great imaginations, so include them in your planning. Even the simplest events can build fun memories. You may even wish to jot down each day’s playful activity. At the end of a month, join together and read about what you have been doing for fun.

If you get in the habit of doing one playful thing with your children each day, you will soon find tensions ease and love grows. Our own daily family fun time has made a significant difference in our home.Cindy Parry, Garland, Utah

[illustration] Illustrated by Steve Kropp

Including Every Child

My wife and I have found the following tips helpful in giving all the children in our Primary classes—not just one or two—a chance to participate in lesson discussions:

Write It Down

When we ask a question, we have the children write down their answers or note key words or phrases on paper that they can refer to if called upon. This helps all children feel a responsibility to participate and stay involved with the lesson.

Pick and Choose

For this activity we ask a question, then propose several different answers and label them a, b, or c. We tell the children they will have 10 seconds to think about it. Then when we say “Go,” they may indicate their answer by standing up for the a answer, staying seated for the b answer, or sitting on the floor for the c answer.


To encourage thinking about the lesson, we say to the class, “Discuss this point with the person sitting next to you.” After using this technique a few times, we simply call out “Share!” and the students turn to their neighbors and start talking. We often follow up with a general discussion that is richer because they have already talked about it in pairs.

Show Me

After asking a question, we have the students signal their answer using color-coded cards. Green paper signals “I agree,” and red or yellow paper signals “I disagree” or “I am unsure.” Students can also signal a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Blanket Boundaries

During nursery singing or lesson time, we put a blanket on the floor and ask the children to sit on it. This gives them a boundary and keeps them from wandering about. The blanket also serves as a transition: when it is spread out on the floor, the children know it is time to sit quietly.

Grin and Bear It

Sometimes we use a stuffed teddy bear to gain the younger children’s attention during lessons. The bear “watches” for children who are participating, and at the end of the lesson or activity the bear gives them all a kiss.

Cut It Out

One activity the younger children seem to enjoy has been working with modeling clay, which we roll out on the table. Using cookie cutters, the children then cut out shapes that go along with the lesson.Brad Wilcox, Provo, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker