There will be dinner.

Yeah let’s talk about food. Yum in my tum.

One thing that I didn’t do before I got married was meal planning. I just got whatever spoke to me at the grocery store and hoped that my creativity in the kitchen would figure out how to make it edible. Usually this involved buying random things that I had never heard of before just to see what I could do with them. I felt kind of like I was on Chopped.

Basically everything that I ate tasted very similar. I have lots of different types of cookbooks from middle eastern, to soup only, to Julia Child, usually I didn’t look at the cookbooks before I went to the store so I would have one thing for ten different recipes, but nothing that really worked as a whole.

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                                                                    The collection.                                                                              One is signed even signed by the author. Is it weird to have a signed cookbook?

I did try to make an effort to learn what flavors and spices were prominently used in different cultures, but as you know I was never good at the whole following through thing. But then marriage happened. All of a sudden I had to please someone else’s taste buds, not just my own. My typical throw everything into a pot and hope that it doesn’t come out tasting like soap (because somehow this has happened to me before…salsa fixes everything) wasn’t going to work.

Planning out meals can still be very difficult for me and so I try to make things last over a few days. Like right now I have a bunch of chicken legs and thighs in the crockpot with veggie ends and water. Some of the meat is for dinner tonight, the rest will go to a different meal, and then the broth, (broth deserves it’s very own post) the broth will be saved for soups later on down the line.

Fun fact: My crockpot full of bones and water makes 9 cups of delicious yummy broth.

These are the steps that I take when I am trying to plan out what we are going to eat for the week. I am still trying to figure out if planning for the whole month, or week by week is more cost effective.

  1. Check on what is on sale.

The first thing that I always do is check on what is going to be on add at the supermarket. I have an app on my phone that lets me search the different items for things that I actually buy, usually produce and meat. Sometimes I venture into the dairy section, but rarely.

2. Use gained knowledge to search for recipes that will fit what is on sale.

My most common internet search is probably: Healthy, cheap dinner ideas. I find that produce almost always gives me the most bang for my buck, so I usually try to find recipes that are high in veggies rather than cheese or pasta, or frozen items. I also try to plan variety, some meatless dishes, some chicken or pork, and some fish.

3. Make a list of what I need.

Then comes the shopping list. I break mine down into veggies, fruit, meat, grocery and bulk. I don’t like having to search through and make sure I have everything before I leave the store, by breaking the list into different categories I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

4. Shopping!

Because I spent almost a year working at a grocery store after I graduated from college, I
feel like I may have a leg up as far as finding better deals…maybe. I know there are some people who go to multiple stores to get the best deals on their whole list, or use coupons for everything, and they save a ton of money. I don’t usually go to two different stores, unless my husband tags along, and I only use coupons if I happen to come across one for something that we use, which doesn’t happen all that often. Instead I look for anything with a “Manager’s Special” sticker on it, especially in the meat department, this usually means that the meats date is coming up, but I always put the meat in the freezer until I am ready to use it, so this isn’t an issue for me. I also only buy apples if they are under $1 a pound. Basically I don’t buy anything unless it’s on sale. This is a philosophy that expands to more than just food shopping!

Sometimes I don’t schedule meals on a few days, either because I know we will be away or because I can’t think of anything that satisfies my meal criteria. I usually end up regretting this because then we are stuck without anything to cook and end up eating out instead. Which is mucho expensive.

Goal: become good enough at cooking to create my own recipes and write a cookbook.

I need to get working!

 

 

 

Kathleen dreams of kimchi.

Fermented foods have always been fascinating to me. It all started with some fermented lemonade, fizzy and tangy. Do I remember exactly how it was made? Nope. The one thing that I do remember was thatĀ it was pretty easy to make. I think I was the only one in the family who actually liked it plain though.

I just love that tang that comes along with fermenting. It makes my jaw tingle, that is how I know if I am eating something delicious…I feel it in my jaw. But I have to admit there is just something a little weird about eating, or drinking, something that has just been sitting out on the counter for several days, it’s growing bacteria (beneficial bacteria, that helps with digestion), and maybe it’s starting to smell a little weird. But it’s the taste that really counts here, and as whatever you’re making sits on the counter doing its weird little fermentation dance, it’s building up some serious flavors that aren’t for the faint of heart.

Now all fermented foods are not created equal. I try very hard to forget an encounter with a kombucha drinkĀ that left me sick sick sick, during my eight hour deli shift. Blah.

This week we had some left over cabbage in our fridge. See Exhibit A.

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Exhibit A. Brassica oleracea var. capitata AKA. Cabbage

This poor sad bit of cabbage was begging to be made into something triple flavorful. So I added some carrot, cucumber, and green onion. Loosely following a few recipes that I found online I made the seasoning for Kimchi. A palmful of crushed red pepper, a half inch of ginger and around 2 cloves of garlic both grated. No fish sauce? No problem. I just added some water.

I mixed it together without gloves, I don’t have any cuts on my hands so I didn’t have to worry too much about them stinging. I washed my hands right after I packed the kimchi into it’s jar so I could avoid stinky hands.

Ben has sworn that he won’t try it… so I will be attempting to sneak it into everything we eat for the next week. From what I can tell so far, this seems to be a pretty mild batch, so there is hope!