Friday, February 6, 2009

what's for dinner?

People are amazed that I cook almost every day. I try to feed my family healthy stuff and I enjoy cooking, but I really don't spend much time doing it. We usually have only an entree and a green salad. Most dinners are prepared in about 30 minutes, start to finish. However, rather than Rachel Ray, I'd rather be like Michael Pollan. CD and I both dislike repeating meals very often, so our repertoire is huge. We printed out a list of menus which filled two typed pages, but we're still bored with most of them and always searching for new ideas. I beg my family for help menu planning and I go to the grocery only once a week unless we have a dire emergency. We eat as seasonally and as locally as we can afford. That translates to: I buy local organic produce when my farmer's market is in season and I buy bargains and Kroger brands most of the time for the rest. I'm trying to decrease the amount of meat we consume, but I'm not sure I've made any progress.

For a sample, here was our planned dinner menu for last week:

Mon: ham and baked sweet potatoes, sauteed kale
Tue: BBQ brisket in crock pot, leftover mashed potatoes from last week, green salad
Wed: eat at church
Thurs: chicken lasagna, green salad
Fri: meatloaf and roasted parsnips and onions, steamed peapods
Sat: homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, green salad
Sun: no plans

Here is what we actually ate last week:

Mon: ham and baked sweet potatoes, green salad. (I forgot about the kale)
Tue: BBQ brisket in crock pot, leftover mashed potatoes, green salad
Wed: They had a great variety of soups at church. I had a southwestern soup I'd enjoy making sometime if I could reconstruct it.
Thurs: take-out Mexican (I had a terrible headache all day and couldn't kick it. I froze the leftover chicken I'd planned to use.)
Fri: meatloaf and roasted potatoes and turnips, steamed peapods. (I think I was supposed to have put the parsnips and onions on the grocery list and never did. We had a sad, sad turnip in the fridge, so I added it to the potatoes. )
Sat: homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, sauteed kale (since it needed to be used still)
Sun: oven fried chicken drumsticks and green salad eaten in front of the Super Bowl

We almost always eat in our dining room because (1) I hate to see the messy kitchen while I'm eating and (2) it was a habit from my own childhood and (3) I somehow think that sitting together in the dining room will make my boys more civilized. We also light a candle on the table because, again, it is habit and also because I just like candles. We don't say a blessing however and I'm trying to change that. Just spending a moment saying something nice might rub off on my kids who are going through some less-than-pleasant sibling-relationship-issues right now. I've tried Mir's idea of sharing compliments at the table and I like the idea.

We've made mealtimes a big priority here and other things get compromised instead. When baseball season hits our mealtimes become more lax, but I still cook almost every night. I'll try to throw a week's menu up here again come May when life is crazy.


  1. Jill, if you want a quick and easy recipe, give this a try. You can throw shrimp, grilled chicken or Italian sausage on top to make a heartier main course. We had it last night and it was so good! I added some cooked asparagus and Rod thought black olives might be a good addition, too. Suffice it to say, we had to flip a coin to see who would get to take the leftovers for lunch! :)

  2. check out this is where we get the bulk of our local organic veggies. they even have a year round growing season, so even now we get our CSA box.

    i cook almost every day too, and rarely repeat a recipe either.