Dec 11, 2013

How to Boil Water: Behind the Scenes

I cook almost every night. It's something that I enjoy doing now that I never did before. And I love being able to share my experiences in learning to cook with this blog through 'HtBW.' And as easily as I type up all my blogs to share the recipes I make and things that I have learned, the whole process is much lengthier and more complicated.

Everyone has their own system of figuring out what to have for dinner. Some people, like me, do it weekly. Some plan monthly. Some just go with it on a daily basis. Some don't plan meals at all and just eat out. However, you do it is fine. To each their own. But this is all about how I do it.

As you can probably guess I start the whole process with meal planning, which means I pull out cookbooks, favorite recipes, and turn to the internet. Usually I use one source. I will have a week of meals all out of the same cookbook or all from the internet or I just do all favorite recipes. Sometimes I will put in favorites with new recipes during a week, but mostly I go with recipes all from one source just to make it easier. Another thing I do to make this whole thing easier is that I have a "formula" for every week. We have one beef, one chicken, one pasta, one sausage, one pizza, one fish/seafood and one whatever night. And when I choose a recipe, I try to reuse fresh things that I already bought for another recipe. I don't cook out of boxes (although  I'm not judging those who do) and mostly cook all with fresh produce, so I don't want to end up wasting unused vegetables or fruits by the end of the week. So if the first recipe needs mushrooms or fresh herbs then I find another recipe that will needs that stuff later in the week. It seems complicated - or maybe it doesn't and I'm not great at explaining - but it really isn't. It's a system that I have worked hard to put together to make the whole process easier on me.

I do have a monthly calendar, so I can plan ahead. But for the most part I plan weekly.

I should also mention that while I look for dinners for us, I work through what Addison will eat for breakfasts and lunches during the week. I'm not crazy for doing this - but it makes it easier to know ahead of time what I'm feeding her and what I need to get from the store. It also helps me to be sure I'm feeding her well-balanced meals. 

Using sheets I made from the household notebook that I have, I get everything written down and organized. And after doing all that, I pull out of my little notebook and make a list organized by how I walk through the grocery store to make sure I don't miss anything or have to back track. My little helper is patient and likes the grocery store, but I like to make my trips as quick as possible to be sure that I don't waste a lot of time going back and forth and whatnot.

Then Addie and I go on our weekly grocery run. After getting home, I get Addison settled playing or watching a movie then go through the less-fun process putting everything away. I check everything off my original list to make sure I have everything I need for the week (sometimes I have to go for a second grocery run to another place because our grocery store didn't have what I needed).

When putting away groceries I usually deal with fresh produce. I wash most of the produce (some you don't wash until you want to use it) and put it away in clear ziploc bags marked with what it is and what the date is. I do the same with meats. I buy a family size of chicken breast then wrap them individually in wax paper then pack them in freezer ziploc bags, also marked with what it is and dated.

Then I cook each night. [We have a pizza night every Friday. Every other Friday we order pizza and the other Fridays I make pizza. I also plan for at least one night out a month where I don't have to cook and we eat out. We do have leftover nights throughout the month when our fridge gets too full and Rob can't eat them all for lunches during the week. We do our best not to waste any food - that's just wasting money afterall.]

The process doesn't end there when I decide to do a 'HtBW.' I have to make the decision on if I will do a post on that meal before I start cooking so I can get pictures along the way. Then after everything is cooked and cleaned up, I can get my pictures on my computer and the recipe typed up. I, then, put together the post: pictures, recipe, and my thoughts on how the recipe went, tasted, and what I learned. After I finishing the post, I plan when it gets posted and wash my hands of that recipe - unless of course we liked the recipe then it gets put in with our favorites to be eaten again.

Then it all begins again the next week.

So be it good or bad, right or wrong, this is the way I do it each and every week. It's exhausting. I get burnt out. I have weeks when I just don't want to do it anymore. I have weeks when we don't eat great because I'm not feeling great or feeling burnt out. But for the most part this is how things go every week and it works, so I have no plans to change it anytime soon.

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