Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dinner is HARD! But I love it so....

One of our resolutions last year was to eat better so we decided to cook more and rely less on eating out and "instant meal" solutions like frozen dinners, etc... As a result of that decision and Jess' dairy allergy that's also meant some extra time spent planning ahead by making a menu for the week and doing a large grocery trip for ingredients. If we don't plan and stage ahead of time we end up in the nightly cycle of trying to decide on dinner and shop while hungry. That's never a good place to be:
"What do you want for dinner?"
"I dunno. Food."
"What kind of food?"
"Food type food...."
"Food type food flavored food?"
"For the love of God and all that is holy: Please use a damn noun?"
"Healthy, delicious, wholesome and nutritious food-type food flavored food!"
Things don't get better from there.

Planning a week's worth of food and then shopping for it takes a lot of time and energy on a Sunday (about half a day all told) but I think it's very much worth it. We get to eat some wonderful tasty food that's not horrible for us and we've been trying to add at least one new thing each week so there's a tad of excitement too. We also get to talk about our weekly schedules as part of figuring out how much cooking time we'll have in the week and setup a general plan for (both food and non-food related). Good food and togetherness it's pretty darn good to me.

The weeks that we do this we generally are also more prepared and can help each other out with life stuff in addition to having some time to cook in the evening. It also means that the majority of the things I buy at the store tend to be fresh ingredients: veggies, fruits, meat, etc.. which always makes me happy. This also has the side benefit of freaking people at at the store; a few times I've had people comment on my fresh/pre-prep ratio. Counterculture though nutrition? Sure, I'll take it!

I know it seems hard sometimes to make the time to plan a menu, do the shopping, and then cook but I highly recommend it. It's rewarding on a number of levels and a time saver too. Maybe lots of people do this and I'm just crazy? Judging by the other people at the store, possibly. Then again, At the Kinko's today there was a man trying to buy some boxes and was really kind of angry that there wasn't someone there to help him the moment he walked in the door so perhaps I'm not the best judge.

This weeks' menu:
  • Sunday: Stuffed Peppers (modified Joy of Cooking recipe -- more tomato and lemon)
  • Monday: Leftover Stuffed Peppers (tight schedule for Monday, so leftovers rock)
  • Tuesday: Mushroom Barley Soup (How to Cook Everything -- prep time is a tad long, but doable and hearty enough to make it worthwhile)
  • Wednesday: Catfish Poached in Ginger Sauce (How to Cook Everything -- new for us, but is super easy and sounds tasy.. serving with udon noodles and fresh scallions)
  • Thursday: Roman Chicken (we made this once before, flavor was good but we kind of screwed up the execution, redemption time for this one)
  • Friday: Unknown... We may go out, or we may have a craving for something, we generally leave one day a week as undecided in case we need to punt for a pizza.
If you haven't noticed, I recently picked up an older copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman which is a wonderful fabulous terrific awesome book that's full of win. Get it. Read it. Cook it. I love Joy of Cooking because it really is the de-facto reference for the home cook and when I have a oddball question like "How do you field dress a rabbit?" it's the thing I turn to first. But How to Cook Everything really edits cooking from something that seems daunting to something that seems natural. It's the mid-70's S0Ho to Joy's Upper West Side on The Park.

Also, I seem to be missing New York tonight. Not sure what that's about. Probably Luis Villa's dent about lunching at Union Square Cafe a while back. Rat bastid.

Lastly: WTF does Corn Syrup now have a lobbyist group and friggin' commercials on TV now?

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