I have always enjoyed cooking (it's really the cleaning up after part that detracts me from the idea...), but when you work full time, it's tough to find the energy and umph at the end of the day to plan a meal. I know I could have been one of those responsible and organized people who would plan out a menu, or even better, cook up a large amount of a free day and freeze the extras making the work day meals so much easier. However, that required to much energy and umph too--and the tiny little detail that we needed to be home on a weekend!
But all of that is about to change! The past two summers I have had full intention of sitting down with my cookbooks and trying all of these new meals--yeah, that didn't go far. BUT, since I'm not having to go to inservices or get ready for the next school year, that little goal is happening!
My favorite cookbooks are not the kind you buy in the store, but the ones that are compiled by the people you know--like church groups and communities. So I sat down with my Feeding the Flock (from Boulevard, the church where I grew up) and Table Ties (from Surgicare, the place where my sister Mel works) cookbooks and began my list. I read through every recipe. Anything that sounded promising--and somewhat doable for my cooking abilities!--gotten written down on my list. From there, I got my handy dandy weekly planner notepad and actually wrote out a menu. It included nights that I wouldn't need to cook as we had other plans and such, along with the page numbers and cookbook where the recipe could be found. AND the real kicker--I'm actually sticking with it!!
Last week I cooked a roast and rice and gravy--major accomplishment for me! The first time I tried that (and it was in the crockpot...I thought those recipes couldn't be messed up...), the meat was extremely tough, the gravy was clumpy, and my rice cooker kapooped and the rice was crunchy. Needless to say it was a disaster. But this one was good! This weekend we had steak, crawfish etouffee, and baked potatoes for Hunter's birthday party (we also had homemade snickerdoodles and homemade red velvet cake!). This wasn't a new recipe, but nonetheless, I cooked! Last night I made jambalaya, woot woot! Granted it was a super simple recipe that you make in the rice cooker, but my boy liked it and was proud of me!
Today is Hunter's birthday so I definitely couldn't get away with not cooking. Normally I would have tried his favorite of red, beans, and rice, but we're saving that for next week. Tonight I'm braving chicken spaghetti and homemade beer bread (we even have this sweet cinnamon honey butter to spread on it...). Hoping it's tasty!
Finally, one of the greatest parts of cooking--Hunter takes the leftovers to work the next day instead of going out to eat which saves us tons of money! I've also saved money by checking my pantry and actually making a grocery list based on what I need for the recipes on my menu. Before I would just stop at the store on my way home from work. I'd pick up things I thought I needed (when in reality I already had it) or buy things with plans of making something specific. But the tired and busy would kick in and the food would go to waste before I even cooked it. No more! I hope to be in a good habitual swing of meal and grocery planning by the time little AJ gets here--the more routine I can have taken care of, the better off I'll be!
It sounds like a pain, but it's so worth it! Make a menu, coordinate the list.
And if you have any delicious recipes you'd like to share, please don't hesitate to pass them my way! Happy cooking :)