Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ms. Child and the stress free cook

Cooking can really be an art form, I think Julia Child taught us that.

But cooking can also be a lovely release - after a day of doing things you don't wanna do, and biting your tongue, and dealing with life - you can step into your kitchen and be the creator of your own little universe. And while we all know that the best meals come from "helping" the recipe, and letting your mood and tastes dictate the preparation - letting go so the food can do its thing - I always ride that little power high at first. It feels good.

And this week - Paul and I have every night home together. Which means we get to cook, and eat, and share together. (Three plus years in and I still relish this.)

This week is his in-between-opening-and-closing-nights of the show, and I haven't been feeling the bestest, so we need restorative meals, methinks. I was talking with some friends this week about food and the planning and preparation of it. There were some amazed opinions about my meal with two side dishes and desert .... and here's my secret. Are you ready?

...........(I make a plan.)............

That's it. :) I make a plan, usually on Saturday while I catch up on whatever must see television show is on. This week, it's on Sunday afternoon. And even as I type this, I remember how daunting a plan was at first. What if your schedule changes? Or you don't want what you have planned? How do you know what to put together?

I could write an essay on how I conquered the unknown world of menu making and got here (this place that my momma always seemed to magically inhabit even on the most stressy of days). But it's really a learn as you do type of thing. I do think about three things when I menu-make.

1) How easily/quickly does this meal need to come together so that eating dinner is an enjoyable part of the evening, not a hindrance?
2) Variation! In color, food type, seasoning.
3) What's in my freezer? And what cook book haven't I looked through in a while? (If the recipe isn't memorized, I make sure to include the page number.)

So here, as an example, is my meal plan for this week - which was just scribbled on my notebook.

Sunday: (watching Oscars at Moms--gotta have something quick!) Spaghetti, bread, and salad
Monday: (won't be home before 7) Crockpot roast beef, rice and green beans. Peaches (canned)
Tuesday: Italian bread crumb chicken, potato wedges, apple slices
Wednesday: (will be out most of the day) Fix chicken in crockpot to use in crescent roll ups, stove-top carrots with honey and parsley
Thursday: (work late) crock pot baked beans (need to find decent recipe), french fries, and pork - probably BBQ
Friday: most likely eat dinner at Mom's
Saturday: Chicken flat bread pizza's...or whatever sounds good.

Now, who knows if this will all actually happen...but I have a plan to work from! Which saves tons of time and stress when I get home from work!

What are some of your favorite ways to save on stress when it comes to fixing dinner?

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