28 February 2015

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journal 17

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

The Kitchen Journal from www.BethFishReads.comI had all the best intentions to post a cookbook review for today, but life seemed to get in the way. Actually, this week was particularly busy with work, and that's where all my focus and energy have been.

Update on meal planning. No one is more surprised than I am at how much I've taken to the idea of making up dinner menus every week. It took some time to find my own style, but I'm in the groove now. Here are some things I've learned:

Don't plan seven dinners. Some meals will stretch to two nights, and some nights you're just too frazzled to cook. For me, the magic number seems to be five. We usually have at least one night of leftovers, leaving me with one night to be creative in the kitchen.

Don't pre-assign meals to a day. Locking myself into recipe A on Monday, recipe B on Tuesday, etc. brought out the rebel in me. I just never seemed to want to eat that night's assigned dinner. Now I just have five meals that can be made on whatever night I wish (except fish, which I cook the day I buy it). This simple bit of freedom changed my whole attitude to the idea of planning.

Mix it up. Avoid getting in a rut. Don't plan the same types of food week after week. Have meatless Thursday or a roast on Saturday. Switch up the flavors and cooking styles. The only rule I stick with is to plan for one fish, two meat, and two vegetarian meals. What those dinners are and when we eat them are absolutely flexible.

Pinterest & recipe sources. I've been on a big magazine kick this winter, and they've been the source of almost all my recipes. If we really liked a dish and I can find the recipe online, I've pinned it to my Pinterest "Recipes: Tried and Like" board. I've made an effort to include notes on what I did differently (I'm hopelessly unable to follow a recipe exactly). If you're interested in what I've made, click on the link. These are not necessarily knock-your-socks off meals, but are dishes we'd be happy to have again.

Cool new gadget. You probably already know all about these, but I just discovered pouring lids for canning jars. I bought a wide-mouth lid because I could get in blue. I'm not yet sure what I'm going to put in my jar, but I like the lid. You can get all kinds of mason jar lids, such as strainer lids, metal lids with pour spouts, travel mug lids, and lids with holes for straws. Most come in both wide-mouth and regular sizes. Search your favorite online store.

Annnnnnnnd that's about it for me this week. Back to our regularly scheduled Weekend Cooking next week.


Sarah's Book Shelves 2/28/15, 7:46 AM  

I'm glad you didn't get a cookbook review together this week b/c I like this post! And - I like how you built flexibility into your meal plans. I've been trying to add 1 meatless day a week to my schedule (usually a night my husband is traveling...he's definitely a meat lover).

(Diane) bookchickdi 2/28/15, 8:05 AM  

I'm glad to hear your meal planning is going so well. I love Pinterest as an online recipe book. It's very helpful when I'm grocery shopping to be able to see what I need at a few clicks.

bermudaonion 2/28/15, 8:43 AM  

Planning menus never worked for me either because I never wanted that evening's assigned dinner so I'm sitting here wondering why it's never occurred to me to have a flexible menu plan. What a revelation!

JoAnn 2/28/15, 9:08 AM  

I'm a firm believer in meal planning (when we're at home, anyway) and have reached many of the same conclusions. Five meals a week is what I plan and flexibility is key. I almost always cook seafood the day it's purchased, but mood takes over after that. I also started a "Pin Wins" boar Need to improve on keeping it updated though.

jama 2/28/15, 9:17 AM  

Thanks for sharing -- and the good tips! I like the idea of being flexible about which meal for which night.

Tina 2/28/15, 9:32 AM  

This is s good post, lots of good tips for planning. I never plan a set menu but I do make lots of lists to keep me organized.

Karen White 2/28/15, 10:04 AM  

Inspiring! I am stuck in all kinds of food ruts due to an extremely picky 11 year old and either limited time due to my work schedule or a husband who is home and loves to cook but is unable to plan before 2 p.m. the day of the meal!

What I really want to know is, what's that baked good in the middle of the post???

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 2/28/15, 10:44 AM  

So cool about those lids!! I have bought several regular lids for my jars so that I can stick them in the freezer/fridge and reuse them over and over (they're plastic, not the metal ones) but I love the idea of strainer and pour top lids. Which reminds me...I have a chicken carcass in my fridge which needs to be used for stock TODAY!

I meal plan a bit like you do. Build in days for leftovers or "fend for yourself" as well as a blank day a week for either eating out or eating with my parents (bless them!). I rarely cook what's on the actual assigned day but I find that having those ideas written down provides just enough inspiration (plus hopefully the ingredients to mix and match).

Books on the Table 2/28/15, 10:48 AM  

I'm so glad to have found your linkup. I love reading anything about food -- cookbooks, memoirs, you name it -- and am an obsessive recipe collector.

Vicki 2/28/15, 11:05 AM  

I love to meal plan and like you don't pre-assign meals to a specific day. I also do the one fish, two meat, and two vegetarian meals. I'm not a big fan of fish so that's the one I have the most problems with. I'm hoping to get to where I can do even more vegetarian nights. Love those lids, I'll have to look for some.

Esme 2/28/15, 5:01 PM  

I agree there always seems to be leftovers and some nights you do not feel like eating what you thought you may. I tend to buy fish the day I will eat it-I do not want it sitting around.

Joy 2/28/15, 6:32 PM  

Cool that you got meal-planning working for you! I do, too, but we're super-boring. We have a repertoire of about 5 dishes and just keep repeating them. It works for us, because every dish is perfected and we have some seasonal dishes, so things change through the year.

Joy's Book Blog

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 3/1/15, 1:26 PM  

We don't meal plan, we adapt to use what is fresh or needs using. I agree with your statement, don't plan on 7 meals. While we use the freezer to avoid eating the same meal twice in a row, we are frugal to the max and use it up!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine 3/6/15, 12:12 AM  

I'm glad you found a system that works for you! I'm lost without a meal plan and a recipe. I'm not creative enough a cook to just throw something together. If I'm making something that can be easily doubled, I will and freeze the second portion. That way I have some meals I can just thaw and heat on nights I don't have time to cook. And I make sure to have some Trader Joe's frozen meals on hand for nights I'm too tired to cook.

Laurie C 2/14/16, 12:08 PM  

This must have been a non-Weekend Cooking weekend for me, because I missed this post when it came out. Maybe I could become a better planner using these tips! I definitely made the mistake of planning seven elaborate meals whenever I tried to do a weekly menu plan up in advance, and always failed in the execution of the plan by the second day!

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