A friend of mine made me realize that I should probably write a little bit about something I do on a weekly basis. Menu planning.
First a little backstory on how I arrived at the point in my life where doing something so very domesticated became a necessity. When I first got married I felt, for some reason, that I was expected to come home after a long day at the office and prepare for my husband a hot and overly involved meal. I remember one particular night where I took it upon myself to roast a chicken and make brown gravy. On a weeknight. Starting to cook the chicken at 6:30.
If you’ve never roasted a chicken, it takes about an hour or more depending on the size of the bird. Then you’ve got to make the gravy from the drippings. Of course if you’re nutty like me you’ve also got to make sure the bird is fully cooked. At any rate, I recall sitting on the kitchen floor of our apartment, sobbing b/c I was such a failure at domestic life when dinner still wasn’t ready by 8:30 pm. I learned then and there that dinner didn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Fast forward to 6 years later and I’ve picked up a few tricks here and there that make putting something hot and tasty on the table roughly 30 minutes after I get home (usually at 6:45) easy and painless. It just takes a little planning, a little prep work and a few staples. I keep the week’s menu written on a whiteboard on the side of the fridge so that both myself and my husband know what we’re eating on what night (to avoid eating something similar for lunch).
The key to successful menu planning starts with having a few easy recipes up your sleeve. Sites like epicurious and all recipes can be godsends in this department. You’d be surprised how something that sounds so simple can have so much flavor. Couple a dish like Turkey Diane with a nice bottle of wine, a side starch (couscous grande is one of my favorites) and a quick frozen veggie or sauteed spinach and you’ve got the makings for a delicious bistro-style meal that will take you less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
I’m really getting back into using the crock pot this week mostly b/c I have become quite lazy when I get home…I want dinner ready without having to do a whole lot of work. I should probably start writing a little bit more about my adventures in crockery…because it’s a method of cooking that I haven’t really delved into as much as I’d like and it’s probably worth sharing.
In any event, that’s an insanely quick intro as to how I get dinner, done…and take some of the stress out of knowing what’s for dinner on any given night of the week. Next up, Stuffed Bell Peppers, crocked, courtesy of a 1970’s slow cooker cookbook. Should be interesting.