6 October 2021

Main meals cooked from your rotating list

Although Hanno and I used to eat a wide variety of foods, now we both prefer the food we ate as we were growing up. The food from our mothers and grandmothers' kitchens and for us, that's food from the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, all food was cooked from scratch, it was simple, with few ingredients, but it was always very tasty.

Kartoffel puffer aka potato pancakes.

When I taught a cooking and baking workshop a while back, I shared a list of the meals I cook on a regular basis. My current list is 40 meals long but really, I cook 15 - 20 of those meals on rotation but in no particular order, over and over again. You might think that would be tedious and uninteresting but you'd be wrong, we both love that list and look forward to every meal.  And the good part of the list is by shopping carefully, I have the ingredients for almost all the meals in either the panty, stockpile, fridge or freezer and can cook from the list day in and day out without rushing out to pick something up from the supermarket.

Beef and vegetable soup with dumplings.

The key to this is to sync what is in your stockpile, pantry, fridge and freezer with the meal list. When you select a recipe to go on your list and after you've cooked it a couple of times to modify it to your tastes, identify the ingredients you need to add to your stockpile and freezer so they'll be available when you cook that meal. Most of these old style foods have few ingredients and many of them use the same ingredients. So things like cans of tomatoes, tuna, salmon, rice, barley, flour, cornflour/cornstarch, breadcrumbs, bicarb, pasta, chick peas, a variety of canned beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, herbs, spices etc, are common pantry staples but in the end, what you stock at home depends on what you have on your list. 

It gives me a feeling of purpose to select and prepare food for my family. I see it as an important part of homemaking to provide food that will keep us healthy and which supports our values. I love when our family gets together and we sit around the kitchen table and share a meal. That is the time when we catch up with each other’s news, forge strong connections and solidify our family ties. Serving food that reflects our values fits very well into that scenario.

One thing to note early here is what we should all be doing - involving the family in our food choices. It's the best opportunity you'll have to discuss budgets, food prices and nutrition with your children and a really good way to teach them about home-cooked food. Getting the family on board with food choices means they'll be more likely to eat what's put on the table every day. And having your children grow up with a good idea of what food costs, where it comes from, how to store and cook it, will be a great help to them when they leave home and already have a measure of self-reliance, a good understanding of how to feed themselves well and how much it costs.

Cottage pie with sweet potato topping - recipe here.

So if you want your children to be a part of the family food planning and if you don't want to, or can't, prepare every meal, you should write down all the recipes you put on your list.  You won't be available every day to cook the main meal and when you're not there, someone in your family should step up to provide the main meal. That could be your partner or your children and remember, cooking and shopping for food is gender-neutral. No matter what they say, we all eat, therefore we should all know how to shop for food and how to cook it. 

Rissoles with mushroom sauce, Brussel sprouts and fried potatoes.

Cooking from your list of recipes, is a wonderful way to teach children and teenagers to cook the food they'll think of many years down the track as "the food I grew up with". Food is more than eating and nutrition. It's also about culture, pleasure and accepting good food as part of your everyday lives. So when you create your list, do with it everyone there and encourage them to talk about their favourite food then make sure you add those meals to the list.  In the early days of the list, you or your partner will probably have to teach your children how to cook their favourite meals as well as some of the other meals on the list. As the months and years go by, and certainly before the kids leave home, they should have a good understanding of food, their food budget, how to store food correctly, how to cook a selection of meals and how to use leftovers.

Vegetarian recipes will help you go through the week with some meatless meals. This will be good for your health, good for the planet and will add variety to your meal list. But I remind you to only have meals on your list you enjoy, so if you're new to vegetarian cooking, test drive the meals before they are added to the list.

When planning your meals, think about:
  • Nutrition
  • The meals you like eating
  • Your recipes
  • Your budget
  • Where to shop - markets or supermarkets
  • How much time you have to cook

Here is my list. You'll see that some food is served in a different form over two days. You do this depending on how large your family is - if you have a large family, you'll probably eat it all the first day. But if you want to do what I do below - for example, roast chicken then chicken noodle soup (or chicken fricassee), or roast lamb then shepherds pie (or curried lamb), make sure you cook enough of the meat component for two days. That's a form of batch cooking and it saves time and money.  You can see that items 9 and 10 below also use this tactic, but with the side dishes. You make enough potato salad and pickled cucumbers to serve both days and use a different protein. Also, if you think a meal will not be enough - such as the soup meals - serve a simple dessert as well.  This will hopefully convince the picky eaters and the meat eaters that they've had enough and they're satisfied.

1. Roast chicken and veg 
2. Chicken noodle soup 
3. Roast lamb shoulder/leg and veg
4. Shepherds Pie 
5. Sausages and veg with onion gravy 
6. Kartoffel puffer - potato pancakes - recipe is here
7. Lamb Chops and salad
8. Fresh fish, potato salad and pickled cucumbers or pickled beets with pink onions 
9. Salmon, potato salad and pickled cucumbers 
10.Swedish meatballs, potato salad and pickled cucumbers 
11.Steak and chilli sauce 
12.Chicken fricassee with light sauce, mashed potatoes and salad 
13. Roast pork belly and vegetables 
14. Pasta with meat sauce 
15. Stuffed capsicums 
16. Lasagne and salad 
17. Arbendbrot - rye bread open sandwiches with cold meats, salads and cheeses 
18. Mushroom omelette 
19. Zucchini frittata 
20. Chick pea and vegetable curry 
21. Spinach, ham and cheese frittata - recipe here
22. Pasta with peas and bacon 
23. Green onion omelette 
24. Cheese and spinach pie - filo pastry - recipe here
25. Boiled eggs and salad 
26. Bean tacos with salad, avocado, chilli jam and sour cream 
27. Sweet potato soup and homemade bread with rice pudding and stewed fruit 
28. Tuna bake and salad 
29. Salmon rissoles and salad 
30. Meat balls, red cabbage and parsley potatoes 
31. Cabbage rolls - recipe here
32. Beef rouladen, mashed potatoes and broccoli - recipe here
33. Chicken or pork schnitzel and veg 
34. Corned beef, potato and cabbage 
35. Corned beef hash - recipe here
36  Curry and vegetable pies - it can be chicken, beef or lamb curry
37. Korean fried chicken, pickles, salad and wedges 
38. Pork cutlet, gravy, red cabbage, sautéed potatoes and sour cream
39. Pea soup and soda bread with flummery - recipe for flummery here
40. Beef Casserole - recipe here

Following are some older posts I've written that may help you organise your list and set yourself up for easy family cooking. And in the photos I've featured, you'll see some of the cook books I've used that are full of older style recipes.

Here are some websites featuring old-fashioned home cooking that you can look through to find recipes for your list. Ask older family members for family recipes and those that reflect your heritage. If the recipe makes it onto your list, cook the meal a few times to make sure it suits your taste. Then write the recipe as your modification of the original recipe. 


When you create your list, start off with 15 meals and add the others as the weeks go by. Once you start this, you'll probably remember some of grandma's meals and others you ate when you were little. Add these until you have your list of 30- 40, then cook the favourites in a 14 - 15 day continuous two week rotation. Every so often, add something else from the list and drop one. And never forget this: the list, what you add to it, as well as the shopping and cooking, is a family affair, it is not one person's job.
Happy cooking everyone!  🍉 😊 🥗



  1. I tracked down a 2nd hand copy of The Thrifty Kitchen after reading one of your books mentioning it. A fabulous resource I use regularly.
    I think everyone only has a limited number of foods they prepare but by organising it as you suggest makes such great sense. I am definitely looking to try some of your recipes to see they can become regular meals for me. Cheers

    1. It's an excellent book, Bernie. I'm pleased you found a copy. xx. Oh, I looked into the mobile settings too and I can't change them at the moment. Hopefully when they do the next upgrade it will be easy to do.

    2. IT can be a bit if a brick wall sometimes. I could say stronger things as before I retired I managed a large medical database and over the years my vocabulary deteriorated working with IT. I did find the subscribe when I went to the Web version using the button at the bottom of the blog pages. Cheers

  2. I love this Rhonda! I do something similar. I have lists of meals according to each season (what produce, types of foods, etc. are good for the weather and in season). I pick two weeks worth of meals and rotate through them for a season before changing things up. Each family member gets to choose a dinner for each week, and I fill in the rest.

    Covid is still awful here in the US (Nevada) and we're anxiously awaiting the vaccine for the little ones. Your posts are so grounding and encouraging for me and reading them feels like visiting a dear friend.

    Take care and hang in there.

    1. Hi Kristy. We don't really have four seasons here, just hot and cold. What you're doing is ideal for four seasons regions. We're hoping to start living with Covid when more people here, 80%, are fully vaccinated and that should happen before the end of the year. We have had very few Covid cases in my state but down south the people are suffering with long lockdowns. I wish you the best. Stay well. xx

  3. We are thriving here in our home, healthy and happy! Eating lots of good home cooked meals, too! Do you find you cook certain meals at certain times of the year? I do.

    Your list looked wonderful especially the cottage pie with the sweet potato topping!

    1. It's so pleased to know that, Deanna. Homes have certainly been our safe havens during Covid. We don't really have four seasons, we have hot and cold and that is reflected in my meals. That cottage pie is a real favourite with everyone I serve it to. I hope you try it. Stay well. xx

  4. I really loved this post about turning to meals we grew up with. Just last week my husband made potato pancakes for us using a recipe he was taught by his mom. He was born/raised in Russia and I in America in the 1950's. Our moms had very similar recipes since they consisted of basic ingredients. Not fancy but so delicious. Thanks again... Nancy from Northern California

  5. Amen to keeping a meals list. A friend suggested this a few years ago and it has made a big difference in how we eat. Writing menus is a snap, and when I don't have a plan, I only have to look at the list to decide what to cook. My friend keeps a separate summer meals list, which I don't do...having them all together works for me.

    I mostly cook the meals we grew up with, too. I copied your recipe for kartoffel puffer because I didn't grow up with any Germans in my family, LOL. I'm looking forward to trying them. They look fantastic!

    My husband doesn't cook, although he thinks he does. Doing it myself has always been easier than trying to teach him, because he knows it all, anyway. (Not!) I taught my son to cook when he was in high school (should have started sooner). It's a good thing I did, because he didn't marry until he was 39 and had to feed himself for a lot of years. It is amazing how many women he dated who didn't have a clue about cooking. This appalls me because the ability to feed oneself is the most basic skill of all. My daughter-in-law is an excellent cook and they have a lot of fun cooking together. They eat well, too! When we all rented a condo in Hawaii for our 50th anniversary, they took over all of the cooking and gave me a REAL vacation.

  6. Brilliant blog post!!!
    As we go into winter here in the U.K. I am concerned about power cuts as everything here seems to be deteriorating and shortages of usual foods have started already. I’m trying to compile a list of meals that require only one gas ring to cook as once the power goes so does my stovetop!!! And oven!
    And bead that I can cook on the stove too.
    Would you be doing anything like that soon?
    I bet you have power cuts all sussed out already!

    1. We don't have many power cuts here so I don't worry about them happening. So no, no posts on that subject. I'd suggest soda bread in a dutch oven on a very low gas ring, that would work.

  7. Your list of possible dinners looks so good. I used to do more cooking than I do now, but I need to get back to it again. Those Kartoffel puffers really caught my eye. Maybe it's my German and Irish heritage, but cabbage and potatoes are some of my favorite foods.

  8. This is fabulous. I would love to read that Barossa cook book. We too are preferring simpler foods and that suits me as many days I do not wish to cook.

  9. So much great advice here, especially for those with wee ones. I use a similar technique I call "Menu-by-the-Month. I rotate 30 or so recipes each month. It simplifies things and the family gets to eat what they love.

    Hope you're having a stellar week!

  10. I have a always stocked up for winter cold and flu season. Having a list of recipes helps me have the ingredients I need.

  11. Oh Rhonda, my mouth started watering with the very first picture. YESSSSS... recipes (if you could call them that) from the 1950s and 1960s. Deeee-licious! So basic, so healthy, so good!! Thank you for bringing back good memories for me today, of my mother and grandmother. ~Andrea xoxoxo

  12. Are you preserving the limes in the photo? How?


    1. You can preserve any citrus in sugar syrup, I used a medium syrup. Search for preserved lemons in the search bar of my blog, it shows the process.

  13. A few years ago my 2 girlfriends and I would meet at a coffee shop after Monday school drop off for coffee and catch up of the weekend events. We called it Menu Club because while we were there we planned our meals for the week [we had a master recipe list to chose from] and then we went to the supermarket, did our food shopping and went home. People are now working now so we catch up at different times however for years we loved our Monday morning Menu Club.

  14. Thanks so much, wow, what a huge amount of information and ideas ;). Now I need to start thinking! I make a meal list, and many things reappear, but your list greatly expands the potentials and suggests a more orderly format rather than me standing at the table with a blank piece of paper every ten days….Thanks again,

  15. This is very helpful. Thank you!

  16. Hi Rhonda. Lovely to rediscover your blog. I often think bout a little shop I think you recommended years ago somewhere down south ie rural NSW or vic that sold beautiful practical homewares. Do you remember the name of it?

    1. Yes, that was Megan at Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores in Nundle - https://www.exchangestores.com.au It's a great shop.

  17. Great list Rhonda! Oh how I miss corned beef. It´s not available here other than imported tins. I´ve had a look at DIY recipes but still sitting on the fence with that one. I also miss smoked haddock which strangely enough isn´t to be found here either. Traditionally here in Sweden, Thursdays are pea soup days. Many households will serve this and it will be a choice at all schools, care homes etc. Always served with a dessert of pancakes, a dob of strawberry jam and a dollop of cream.
    Keep well

  18. Wonderful post Rhonda! I have been slow to getting kids cooking meals regularly. They can all (though less so the 8 year old) cook a number of things, but I have not maintained a regular evening that my two teens cook - I start, then our routine goes out the window and I stop, then start again...! I love your list, and am especially grateful for the potato pancake recipe! I have also returned to more old fashioned recipes that my mum and grandma cooked, after many years of very adventurous cooking. It is a trap cooking something new all the time - you find you are forever heading to the shops but when you look in the fridge or pantry you still don't quite have all the ingredients needed to finish a recipe. I love a good list so plan to sit down and right out my full list later today or over the weekend as time permits. Have a wonderful weekend Rhonda!

  19. This is a lovely post Rhonda. My grandmother was a home economist and cooked very much the way you describe and as she raised me that's the food I grew up on. I've been a Margaret Fulton fan forever and my copy of Thrifty Kitchen as well as her book on Crock Pot Cooking are well used, as are my grandmother's books from her days as a demonstrator with the local County Council. Lovely to see such honest and nourishing cooking being celebrated.

  20. wow Rhonda this post has so much great information I will be referring to it over and over. thanks so much. All the best to you and Hanno

  21. I appreciate the teamwork spirit of this post SO much. Food can be such a joy--filled with memories as well as nourishment. Totally a household affair! I love it.

    Matt and I both love cooking and make a rotating list in the kitchen for what we'd like to make in the coming week or two. It is largely driven by our garden and what's is ripe out there.

    Now I want some Kartoffel puffer! I was just thinking about them, though they're not a food I knew growing up.

  22. This is definitely the easiest way to meal plan, in my opinion.
    A list of about 15 meals for cold or hot weather, and you're good to go!!!

  23. I really like the idea of a meal list like this. We're not good at weekly menu planning, but rotating meals with a list like this looks much easier. I actually do something similar I guess, only without it actually being written lol.

    1. The list doesn't have to be written down if you can remember it. I only write my list when I want to show it to others. So keep going and add a couple of things during the year to update your list and try new things. xx


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