I like to cook. I love to eat. I like trying new recipes, foods, restaurants. I wouldn’t call myself a foodie since I’m not too much of a snob when it comes to what I eat. Food plays an important part in many memories, family experiences, and life.
All that said- making dinner is probably one of my least favorite activities. Actually, I should amend that to say making dinner on work nights is one of my least favorite activities. So in my efforts to ‘cultivate’ in 2015, I wanted to really focus on cooking better and smarter. This meant using up what we bought since throwing away food is one of my biggest pet peeves in life. This also meant meal planning since the anxiety-filled drives home from work and roaming around the grocery store looking for inspiration were not cutting it anymore.
I should preface everything here by saying that this is, of course, a first-world problem so I don’t want to come across as a complainer. As my wise soon-t0-be sister in law says “it’s just food, not a dissertation.” Of course, she’s right and I’ve never starved. I should also add that while I complain about cooking weeknight meals, I’m not the only person in the house and Q does his fair share of cooking, and almost exclusively is the weekend chef in the house. It just happens that most nights I get home much earlier than he does, so I take on the meal prep.
What stresses me out? It’s a handful of things. Part of it is trying to find something that both Q and I will like, want, is healthy, and is within our budget. If I was on my own, I’d probably eat shrimp with broccoli every night and Q probably beef tacos or pizza, or some other similar concoction. I try to accommodate his tastes for all things meat, while still maintaining the healthy profile we both want. I also want to try new things, but also not have recipes that are overly complicated or involve too many ingredients for a weeknight dinner- my mind can’t handle more than 5 or 6 things after a long day at work.
I know cooking/meal planning isn’t rocket science so I shouldn’t worry about something that can be as easy as rice and vegetables; food is an extension of love and showing how much I care for a person. This somewhat emotional attachment to food is probably why I care so much about preparing a good meal for the one’s I love and put so much thought into its preparation.
So 2 months into 2015, how am I doing? I’m giving myself a 6 out of 10. We’re doing really well with eating all the food we buy, especially produce. I’m also succeeding in meal planning a bit– with the exception of nights when I know I’m going to be late or out of the house, I basically just pick 4 or 5 dishes for during the week that I’d like to make and shop from that. I’m using Pinterest and a small weekly notepad on the fridge to organize. That’s helping a lot and also alleviating my concern about feeling trapped within a meal plan– what if I didn’t want chicken parmesan on Tuesday? How could I know on Sunday what I wanted on Tuesday? ( I know, silliness right there). This way, I have a somewhat organized meal idea for most days and for the other days, I either kick the dinner making responsibility over to Q or we do takeout or go out. With the ridiculously cold, frigid weather we’ve been having, we haven’t been out much.
I’ll give myself a 10 out of 10 in saving money on groceries by buying better, as well as using the food we have in pantry/freezer. I’m also killing it with some awesome slow cooker meals– last week we had an awesome pulled pork and I’m practically drooling reading the recipe for tomorrow night’s beef roast that I’ll make in the slow cooker. Even after the winter subsides ( soon please!), I think I’ll still use that slow cooker into the warmer months to make meats ( seriously, Q would eat right off the cow if he could, man is a meat-a-tarian).
There are a few culinary challenges I didn’t accomplish from last year that I want to still take on like making my own risotto and baking bread from scratch without a bread maker. I’m hoping my new organized and relaxed approach to creating in the kitchen helps me achieve them!