Sunday, January 24, 2010

Meal Planning

I like cooking. Most of the time. But cooking dinner (and other meals) every day can be overwhelming. The hardest part about making dinner, though, is figuring out what to make and then having the right ingredients on hand to make what you want. For the past few months, however, a blank calendar has revolutionized my meal-making. There's a general plan: beans/legumes on Monday, soup & sandwiches on Tuesday, chicken on Wednesday, pasta on Thursday, fish on Friday, etc. I scour my cookbooks and pencil in meal ideas for weeks in advance.  Before I go food shopping I sit down, peek at the plan and make a list of ingredients I will need to buy, in hopes that I will only need to make one trip to the store that week.

The plan is totally flexible and if we're lucky, there are leftovers so I don't even have to cook some nights. The truth is, half the time I'm not even cooking what I planned, but it is nice having a plan. 

I'm a cookbook lover.  The prettier the pictures, the better.  I just got the Apples for Jam cookbook a few weeks ago and I stare longingly at the cover every time I walk past it.  It's organized by color.  Lot's of tomato sauces in the red section, chocolates in the brown.  It is gorgeous.

I like to try out new recipes - some work, some don't.  Some of our favorites recently have been:
*Lidia Bastianich's Chicken with Olive and Pinenuts
*Tessa Kiros' Lentils and Rice
*Sam Bealle's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
*Kuri Gohan (recipe to come shortly)

I know your families must have some tried-and-true mealtime favorites.  Oh, please share. 

1 comment:

The Crawfords said...

Here is a favorite blog where I get meal ideas:

I've tried several different meal planning techniques, some with more success than others:
1) vary the starch each day of the week (M: rice, T: pasta, W: bread, etc.)
2) vary the protein (M: tofu, T: beans, W: eggs, etc.)
3) vary the cuisine (M: Mexican, T: Asian, W: Italian, etc.)

However, the times I've been most on top of things and have been able to limit grocery shopping to once a week are when I get a vegetable delivery once a week. The day the delivery comes, I plan the meals for the week, working in all of the vegetables. Later that day or the next, I go to the store to get the odd ingredients I don't have and to restock any staples I'm low on. I've found I end up wasting very little this way.