Tis the time of the year I start to think about next year – what I want to achieve, what I want to improve, and most importantly – how I can make them happen.
I’m in a great place with my knitting lately, largely in part because of my train commute. The 25 minutes I spend on the train twice a day has turned into the perfect amount of time to get knitting in every day. I haven’t felt so fulfilled and satisfied with my crafting life in a long time.
This satisfaction is in stark contrast to my food and cooking life though. I’ve hit a rut – an unhealthy and expensive rut. I buy lunch 3-5 times/week out of laziness and convenience, and I bring home take out at least 3 days each work week for dinner. I don’t get much enjoyment out of the kind of food I’ve been eating. It’s significantly less healthy and I certainly don’t enjoy the hit on our bank account either.
It’s time to get serious about addressing this. Now.
I spent the past few days browsing my recipe book stash and was reminded of a true gem – Robin Rescues Dinner by Robin Miller. Robin shares 52 weeks of meals – 3 main dishes and many, many sides – for a full year’s worth of options.
I’ve put together a mini training plan to get myself in weekday cooking shape by January 1st.
Step 1 – Prepare and organize: One of my favorite features of the book is that each week’s recipes build upon each other. For example, on day one you’ll cook twice as much chicken breast so you have it on hand for an even quicker meal #2 later in the week. She also points out make ahead and freezer options so you can prepare during the weekend.
Step 2 – Stock my pantry – I’m making a list of items I want to add to my pantry. We always have a full selection of pasta, rice, herbs and spices, but we tend to have very few vegetable choices on hand. I plan to stock up on some frozen, jarred and canned veggies. I also plan to look at prepared sauces, salsas and toppings like spicy red pepper relish and pineapple habanero salsa. Robin bakes chicken and pork chops with prepared sauces, uses them in tacos and enchilada bakes and tops quick pizzas with them as well.
Step 3 – Start small and expect bumps in the road – they say it takes 30 days to form a habit and I’m prepared for the next month to be a challenge. I’m starting out slowly and plan to work my way up to my final goal. I’m not looking for the quick fix – although it’d be welcome! – but rather a lasting, life long change. It’s going to take time and I’m going to have some setbacks. I’m OK with that…for the most part 😉
Week 1 goals
- Make dinner twice
- Bring leftovers for lunch twice
- Tandoori Chicken with Flash-Fried Chickpeas
- Baja Chicken Soft Tacos
- Chicken Burgers with Cheddar and Charred Tomatoes
- 5-Ingredient Spicy Apricot Chicken
- Spanish Sausage and Vegetable Kebabs
- 4-Ingredient Pork Chops in White Wine-Tarragon Broth
I also have a few quick-fix standbys that I’ll put on my list as well:
- Orecchiette with broccoli, garlic and bread crumbs – if I make a double batch I’ll sometimes add other veggies on day 2 such as carrots and peas to make more of a primavera.
- Stuffed Peppers -Love this easy weekend meal! I make a double batch using ground chicken on Sunday for an awesome lunch during the week as well
- Taco salad – with ground chicken and all the fixings from the salad bar, although lately I’ve been curious to try ground pork as well
- Pepper and egg sandwiches – they won’t work for leftovers but they’re super quick and can use up leftover green peppers and onions
And because this is Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll of course be making a Turkey Pot Pie tomorrow as well. That should be a great meal with at least a couple leftover lunches or dinners. Nice!