Meal Planning

I think I probably start a new meal planning “system” every 3 months. I am open to whatever tips you have — especially for simplifying meal planning and preparation and for saving money. Lay them on me.

Here’s what’s on the menu for dinners at our house this week:

Sunday: Sloppy Joes (and frozen vegetables)

Monday: Rice bowls (with chicken, beans, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, salsa)

Tuesday: Pork roast (with mashed potatoes and onions and carrots)

Wednesday: Italian sausage

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Pancakes and eggs

Saturday: Pasta bake

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Elsewhere

I recently found a four-cup French press at a thrift store and have been using it to press out concentrate for cold-brew coffee. This could not be easier. I like my coffee pretty strong, so one cup of coffee grounds usually only yields about four or five drinks, but even so, it’s probably a money saver over buying those same drinks out.

In honor of the Olympics, here are 7 British foods to enjoy.

And also in honor of the Olympics, I think we might like these gyros (the connection being the Greek-ness of the Olympics and of the gyros, in case you didn’t get that).

I loved Magic Shell as a kid, and I’m intrigued by this homemade version.

We finally tried Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos, and they were so good. I’d like to try these as a freezer meal as well.

When my mom comes for lunch, it’s a good opportunity to try new recipes (both because she can keep the kids at bay while I cook and because she’s up for about anything). Last week we had Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes, and this week we had Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice. Both were a bit on the time-consuming-to-make side of things but  totally worth it. Delicious.

I am still figuring out the best way to use Pinterest when it comes to recipes. I have tried a couple of different strategies, including having a Recipes We’ve Tried board and dividing recipes up into several boards so that I don’t have a hundred untested recipes to scroll through every time I want to look for that one thing I pinned that one time. Still, even if I know just what I’m looking for and where it is, it is still several clicks to pull up the recipe. Any thoughts? What works for you? I think I may be close to giving Pinterest the shove (only when it comes to recipes).

Things I Wish I Would Remember

These are things that I don’t always do when I bake (or cook) but that make the whole experience so much more pleasant.

  1. Start with a clean kitchen.
  2. Get all my ingredients and/or necessary tools out before I start.
  3. Clean up/put things away as I go.
  4. Get up  before the kids wake up (unless I am specifically doing something for fun with them, of course).
  5. Drink coffee when baking, wine when cooking.
  6. Use the baking time/downtime to blog or read (or organize recipes?).
  7. Make some notes on the recipe for next time.

What would you add?

Elsewhere

In the last couple of weeks I have knocked out a few recipes that I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I’m linking them here for future reference.

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Chana Masala was great. I’m on my own for eating chickpeas in this house, though, so I’ll probably only repeat it when I have specific plans to share. I’d also like to give this one a shot sometime.

We all liked Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta. A pound of spaghetti is a lot, though, so, again, unless we have someone to share with, I’ll probably make a half batch next time.

I was particularly bummed to miss the L’Abri conference in Rochester this year. Margie Haack did a session about cooking with cast iron. I got a skillet for Christmas this year and have been a little obsessed with it. Margie is planning to put all the recipes from the session on her blog. And I plan to try each one. So far we’ve had the cornbread (I loved it, but Jason thought it was a bit too buttery on the edges — huh?) and the oatmeal pancakes (they weren’t our favorite the first day, but we had some leftover that I put in the toaster the next day, and those were so yummy that I am thinking I’ll make them Simon’s regular breakfast). I can’t wait to try the Fragrant Moroccan Beef.

I have the ingredients to make Del Marie’s Lebanese Red Lentil and Rice Soup (Makhlouta). And, by the way, Del Marie is a creamery that my friend Daphne and her friend Annemarie are starting in Omaha. Very cool. They have lots of great recipes and other good stuff on their site.

Recommended Resources

Reader participation required!

What are your favorite recipe books? I mean, what are you tried-and-true faithful resources for finding a satisfying casserole, an amazing bread recipe, an hors d’oeuvres everyone will remember?

Comment with titles, authors, magazines, websites, whatever you use on regular basis.

Inspiration

I’m always thinking I’d like to add more pictures to Needs More Butter. This entry has some thoughts about food photography, and a lot of links worth checking out. And, speaking of great pictures of food, Andrea Scher has some beautiful pics of a Harvest Party she attended.

I have absolutely no shame when it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth. If we have “nothing” in the house, I’ll find something. Jason sent me this recipe after he came home to find that I had opened a box of cake mix and instead of making the cake (too fattening!), I emptied the mix into a plastic container so that I can grab spoonfuls of powder from the fridge. See? No shame.

Here is a good tutorial for freezing fresh ginger.

Kelly made some Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding that looks delicious.

There is something about Thanksgiving that makes me really, really want to have a dinner party. This menu looks pretty amazing.

Caroline Langston reflects on The Silver Palate Cookbook and how times and tastes have changed.

I find these turkey leg baby rattles a little disturbing. Via.

Lindsey opened my eyes to the wonders of Starbucks’ Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. True confession: I was at Super Target yesterday and remembered that there was something salty and caramely that I wanted to try. I completely forgot that it was hot chocolate — I guess I was expecting a salted nut roll in a cup or something, so I wasn’t as blown away as I might have been. I will definitely purpose to try again, though.

Oh, those crazy Europeans made a car out of cake. Via.

Inspiration

Halloween has passed, but I forgot to share this marginally food-related link. The first and fourth costumes here are so, so disturbing, and yet they make me laugh really hard.

Smitten Kitchen featured some apple pancakes that look worth the trouble. And pumpkin pie.

I’m starting to think about what I might like to make/bring for Thanksgiving. The Pioneer Woman has a great archive of Thanksgiving-like dishes.

I’ve said before that I could have a whole category for pumpkin-flavored goodness. I think a butternut squash category would also be worthwhile.

Oooh, ooh, and sweet potatoes. Via.

I’m thinking I would probably like to make a meal out of these Sesame Noodles.

Have you ever heard of a Sip ‘n See? I can’t tell you how in love with this idea I am. I want to buy something big or have another baby just to throw a Sip ‘n See!

I had never heard of French Laundry until I picked up Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter this weekend (I’m devouring the book, by the way; pun intended). But now I’m fascinated by this blog, and this recipe in particular. It’s way, way, way beyond my skill level, but I am seriously considering hiring a personal chef (I know of two) to make it for me. Call me crazy, but I really am that curious.