The Best Laid Plans

I have every aspiration to be the type of person that spends a few hours every Sunday afternoon cooking, making enough food for the week so that when I get home from work, I can pop something in the microwave to reheat or open the fridge to grab pre-made potato salad or some other delicious meal. 

Alas, I am not that kind of person. We’re lucky if we make it to both Costco and a regular grocery store on a Sunday to restock the kitchen for the week. Usually we do a major grocery shopping run once a month and I’m always astonished by the bill. But really, if you’re shopping for three people only once a month, you should expect to see triple digits. 

Anyway, my point is that we haven’t done any major cooking or major grocery shopping for a few weeks and the fridge and cupboards are sort of bare. Not empty, but we’re at the stage where other ingredients are required to make anything decent (canned baked beans don’t count). 

I think I have almost everything for black bean and corn soup, so I’ll probably make a modified version of this recipe and some gluten-free cornbread. The last time I made cornbread, it came out too dry, so I’m going to add creamed corn to see if that helps. Soup and cornbread sounds delicious. But after this meal, a grocery store run will definitely be required. We ran out of paper towels last week and I’m almost out of Chipotle napkins, which have been my go-to substitute. 

As a full-time working mom, I hate mid-week grocery store outings. They have to happen after work and let’s face it, after work, I immediately change into my pjs and I just want to spend those precious few hours before bedtime playing with my son, not grocery shopping. 

Do you spend a few hours on the weekend baking and cooking? How do you find the motivation?

What are your go-to, easy dinners? Inquiring, hungry minds want to know. 

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4 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans

  1. I do cook on the weekends, usually. My motivation is that if I haven’t pre prepped food, then when I rock home at about 6pm and the children are clamoring for a meal, I’m far too likely to get fast food. Which, these days, makes me a bit sick to the stomach. I much prefer a home-cooked meal, and I absolutely do not have the time or energy to make it happen from scratch on your average weekday evening. My husband, when he’s in town, is an absolutely terrible cook. Our afternoon nanny might be a good cook, but that ain’t her job. Both of them, however, are A+ stars at putting pre-made stuff in the oven so it’s hot when I get home. Plus I love cooking. So having it be my weekend leisure me-time activity works out. Very soothing. I put on my DVRed cooking shows, and watch them with half an eye while making a thorough mess of the kitchen. Finally, economies of scale come into play. If I’m going to chop a bell pepper for a meal, might as well chop three and make three meals. Use the same knife to chop up a zillion onions, crush some garlic, slice carrots . . . I only have to wash the cutting boards once, etc.

    I usually make and freeze lots of quiches with different fillings . . . a lasagna or homemade bolognese pasta sauce . . . a dish of enchiladas . . . a mac and cheese with various delicious mix-ins . . . and often will pre-cook meat with taco seasoning or similar, to throw into tacos or on top of salads or between bread when it’s time to eat it. Buying a rotisserie chicken and picking the meat from the bones while it’s still warm (this is key) leaves you with all kinds of options for the week, including one night of just straight up cooked chicken, mashed potatoes, and veg. I will pre-cut veggies sometimes too – for a quick evening meal, have pre-cut veggies and stir fry with whatever mix of sauces you like (you grew up in Hong Kong, so I won’t embarrass myself by telling you my Americanized version of Asian stuff). Soups are a big fave in the fall and winter – you can make it in a huge batch, then freeze in smaller servings and eat for weeks. I usually keep one or two pillsbury bread dough things in the fridge to serve with it, along with sliced apples and cheese. You can buy made bread from the grocery’s bakery and freeze it, too – I will cut a loaf in half, and defrost half at a time for us to enjoy with a meal. Takes about an hour out of the freezer. Frozen burger patties, frozen veg, and boxed rice will do in a pinch. Pre-made ravioli and jarred pasta sauce takes literally five minutes to make. And ramen – pour boiling water over some ramen, and while it loosens up, stir fry a couple of shrimp and some snow peas. Add to the ramen, and ta-da – a decent soup. Super salty, but sometimes I dilute the broth with more hot water.

    Sadly, crock pot rarely works out for me, because I”m gone too long and it tends to overcook and dry out whatever’s in it. 😦

    • Thanks for all the great ideas! We’ve had the same bad luck with crockpot recipes, too. The chicken is always too dry, or the curry is overcooked. I really like your idea of cutting a bunch of veggies all at once. I’ll have to try it.

  2. I love and echo the comments above. Sunday morning is typically when I do my prep & cook. The biggest hurdle is just starting, but then before I realize it, it’s noon and I’ve made several meals all before noon. (Disclaimer: I have no offspring) My motivation is that I don’t want to spend money going out to eat every day and buying prepared food is just as expensive.

    I only go to the grocery store on Tuesday or Thursday evening because we have 5% off on those days. If I go on weekends, I go at 7am because I don’t want to spend the time chatting with people I run into or have to wait in a long line at the checkout. I shop with a list and don’t allow myself to be distracted by people or new products. I’ve determined the thing that makes my stops longer is the fact that the produce bags are so hard to open! Costco trips, for obvious reasons, are about once a month.

    I find it essential to have veggie burgers in the freezer at all times. I triple the recipe when I make them so that I don’t have to go through the process as frequently. Same goes for waffles (name one person that doesn’t like waffles for dinner – I dare you!). Other things in my freezer: pierogies, Costco bag of edamame, bread…

    Mexican food (burritos, tacos, etc) is my stand by. I always have cans of beans in the pantry and tortillas & salsa in the fridge. If I don’t have lettuce or tomato, it’s a quick stop at the grocery store. I’ll be honest, though, my favorite dinner is a plain refried bean burrito with ketchup. Other things in my pantry: spaghetti sauce, pasta, rice, nori, rice mixes, cereal, anything that will produce a quick meal. I never buy one can or jar of anything, because I detest having to ‘run to the store’ for a forgotten ingredient. Side note: I’m ready for the zombie apocalypse.

    I typically pack soups for my lunches, though this week it’s going to be veggie curry over quinoa. I made a large pot of curry today and will portion it out during the week.

    Everything I do has to be simple because I don’t have tons of time or energy to spend in the kitchen. I don’t know what time I’ll get home from work, but I know I will be hungry. I snack at 4:30 at work to curb the craziness. Occasionally I’ll try new recipes on weekends only, but nothing beats taco night or sushi night around here!

    I have to tell you, the black bean & corn soup recipe from your MIL you introduced me to that cold, January Saturday night in DC is still in my recipe circulation. Yum!

    • I lost the black bean and corn recipe we used those many years ago and the one I made last week wasn’t nearly as good. I’ll have to get you to send it me!

      What do you snack on at work? My coworker gave me a Costco-size bag of Hi-Chews, which has ruined me forever since I can’t stop snacking on them!

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