Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eating Omily: Planning to Eat Better

So you guys may know by now that I suffer from certain insecurities regarding my feminist status: i.e. I married at 22, my husband is the primary breadwinner, I took his last name, I freak out if the house isn't clean, and I do most of the cooking.  I shudder in horror at the blogs by 'Wife and Mom!!!!!' types, but still take note of their tips for running a household (cringe!).  One would think I would be desperately searching for a way to make myself a little more feminist bad-ass, right?  Well, that search is not going well because this week I started meal-planning.  Does it get any more Sally Homemaker than that?  Oh yeah, I'm also making jam.

But, seriously, I am majorly geeking out over this meal-planning thing!  Lots of people (no one in my age bracket, or DINK status) swear by it, but I've never understood what the big deal was.  I finally read about it on one too many blogs and decided to give it a shot.

A lot of people do this by scanning their favourite websites for recipes that sound good, compiling a grocery list for that week based on those recipes, doing one shopping trip, and then cooking.

Since I eat seasonally and locally, I need a more flexible system than that.  Plus, I can only imagine how much food gets thrown away using that method.  So instead, I started by compiling a rough list of what was already in my kitchen, chose four meals I'm already comfortable making, and one exciting new dish all of which I can make mostly by pulling what I already have in my kitchen, and wrote up my (short) Farmer's Market and grocery list.

This week we're having:

Pizza!

Veggie Currie!
Which looks like this when you cook it!
Those are the blood oranges I'm prepping for marmalade between steps.  You'll hear more about them next week!
You guys, please.  You can't get a curry this good at a restaurant.
 Slow Cooker Beans over Mashed Potatoes!
This is what beans look like cooking.  Good work, guys, keep it up!
 Turkey Enchiladas!
Here's the enchilada sauce I made.  So easy-peasy, and so so good!
 and Bean and Barley Veggie Soup!

Yum.

So, how is cooking all that stuff easier than resorting to Trader Joe's portobello mushroom ravioli and fish nuggets half the time?

Let's be honest: half the battle of making dinner is figuring out what to make that you have the damn ingredients for.  It's way easier to make veggie curry if as soon as I walk in the door, I can put the coconut oil in the pan and start chopping onions, sweet potatoes, etc.

I can also do a lot more making ahead, since I already know what we'll be having: I made the pizza crust and the enchilada sauce Monday morning, and started the beans soaking and took corn tortillas and turkey meat out of the freezer last night.

Even better, I can strategically plan to re-use ingredients in creative ways, so less food goes to waste, and I'm cooking less overall.  Slow-cooker beans turn into bean and barley soup, and the mushrooms I bought Monday at the Farmer's Market topped our pizza that night, and added flavor and heartiness to our veggie curry last night.

Of course, I'm still working the kinks out: a meeting came up for this Friday night that might necessitate resorting to ravioli after all, and saving the soup for Monday night, and I'm going to need to look for local/organic onions at the grocery tonight or tomorrow because I didn't have enough of them for all of this week's recipes.(Note to Self: Check facebook events during planning process).

Did I mention I could never do this without the internet?  There are lots of meal planning websites.  Right now I'm using saymmm.com because it's free, and simple, but it doesn't have an app, and the mobile website doesn't save my login info, so I may end up switching.  I love the way I can update my shopping list anytime, anywhere, and specify which store I want the item bought from.  That makes it much easier for the husband to do the shopping, and to keep track of the cooking tasks left to him.  He's making mashed potatoes tonight to serve with the beans.

Have you ever tried meal planning?  What system works for you?  Will you try it now, or are you still not convinced?  (Hello, did you see this week's menu???)

Mmmmm...

How about I convince you by sharing my veggie curry recipe?  That's what I thought.

Step One: Start your brown rice, because your curry will be done at just about the same time.

Step Two: chop an onion, slice a handful of mushrooms, and chop two carrots.  Saute onions, mushrooms, and carrots in coconut oil, or olive oil with salt.

Step Three: While the veggies saute, chop up three smallish sweet potatoes into small cubes, and halve any larger Brussels' sprouts.  I used about half a stalk's worth (or didn't you know Brussels' sprouts come on stalks?).  Add them to the pan to let them mingle with the other veggies for a couple minutes.

Step Four: Add a cup or a little less of chicken, veggie, or other light stock.  You can use water, but you'll lose out on a little flavor.  Put a lid on the pan, and let the carrots and sweet potatoes braise until tender, about five or ten minutes.

Step Five: When the veggies are tender, remove the lid, and if there's a lot of liquid (more than barely covers the bottom of the pan) turn the heat up and let it cook off a bit. 
,
 Step Six: Stir in really good curry sauce.  I use Brooklyn Salsa Company's because there's just no reason not to.
Hell yeah.
Serve over rice with plain yogurt on the side.  Nom.  Of course, feel free to mix up the veggies in the recipe based on what you have, and what's in season.  This recipe should serve four people, or two people+lunch for two people the next day.  Which looks like this.

Nom.

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