In which I try meal planning..

I’ve been surfing Pinterest a lot lately. If you’ve been under a rock and have not either already succumbed to or heard of this addicting website it’s basically a place you can “pin” ideas to a virtual board to keep track of various online things. Now I don’t use it the correct manner of what you should do, in Jeff’s words “pinning all the interesting things”, I typically just browse the “Everything” page to see what’s new and cool in the world of the internets. At worse its a nice break from studying and at its best I’ve found some links to some pretty great blogs.

One theme that seems to come up over and over  on The Pinterest is meal planning and budgeting to feed families. Apparently there are a lot of stay at home moms who are insanely awesome homemakers and somehow find time to also beautifully photograph their lives and blog about it (links are to some examples I found in a 30 second perusal of the current Pinterest page). All I can say is I hope my future hypothetical children never meet these women because they will then find me sorely lacking.

All this meal planning is great for families.. but what about for two people? The blogosphere is strangely silent on meal planning for couples. So far my strategy in grocery shopping has been to 1) put it off for as long as possible, because omg going to the grocery store is such a hassle 2) go up and down each aisle popping things into my buggy that I think look good and/or will be easy to make 3) come out with 350% more than I went in for because something jumped out at me that “looked good”. While Jeff and I certainly aren’t starving (good Lord, I’ve had to join a legit non-school sponsored gym for the first time in my life!), we sometimes do end up wasting food because it goes bad before we can get to it due to poor planning. So to recap: impulse grocery shopping + no actual plan = not the best. Plus since we live near so many delicious restaurants its super easy to give up and just walk down to one of them instead of being adults and making our own food.

So here is my strategy at meal planning for two in the modern era:

  • Open a Word/Pages document on your computer
  • Start copying and pasting recipes into it. These can be some old favorites or new ones from the internet.
  • Where do you find recipes? I’ve found some good places to start are here, here and here. Also the aforementioned Pinterest. Pick things that if they’re too big you can halve or quarter the amount (or just really yummy ones you’ll want to have lots of leftovers of).
  • Once you have a list of 4-5 recipes, jot down the ingredients you’ll need and voila! A grocery list is born. Plan for a few sides – easy things like green beans or side salad and maybe a dessert or two and a few ready to go meals for those lazy nights you know you’re going to have (thank you frozen pizza).

Going to the Trader Joe’s with an actual legit grocery list saved me so much time this morning and only 3-4 extra things jumped into my buggy instead of the usually 36 (I mean, no one can say no to pumpkin macaroons).

Meal #1 tonight was a success: Shiitake mushroom chips, spaghetti squash carbonara, side of green beans. The pumpkin macaroons for dessert.

Shiitake mushroom chips

Recipe for the spaghetti squash below and found here.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 gloves garlic, minced
2 handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese to taste
Red Pepper flakes or black pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the squash in half and pick out all the seeds. Don’t be anal about getting out the stringy stuff, you can’t even tell it’s there once the squash has roasted. Lightly coat the inside of the squash with some oil and place cut side down, on a baking sheet, in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip each half over, and roast for another 20 minutes–0r until the squash is easily shredded with a fork and add it to your serving bowl.

Raw spaghetti squash

Delicious cooked spaghetti squash

While the squash is roasting, start the sauce. With the bacon placed horizontally on your cutting board, cut the strips into 1/2″ pieces. Don’t worry about separating the strips, just cut away. Add the bacon pieces to a saute pan that’s on medium heat. Cook the bacon until it’s browned and add to your serving bowl. Remove 3/4 of the bacon grease and reserve for another use. Place the onion and garlic in the pan and cook until translucent. Add them to your serving bowl. Toss the walnuts into the pan and toast until slightly brown. Add them to the serving bowl. Add pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.

Serve immediately.

Delicious squash-y goodness

The first time I heard of spaghetti squash I was a little weirded out – squash and spaghetti are not two things that are totally in sync. The first time we made it I just roasted it and served it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Jeff was immediately hooked. Its a little crunchy, a little nutty. Since then we’ve made it a couple of more times (have yet to try it with actual spaghetti sauce, but it seems like it would be good that way as well) and it is delicious. I’ve always been a big fan of gourd like vegetables and this is no exception – plus, its like good-for-you pasta. Don’t be intimidated, just cook it like in the recipe above and you’ve got a nice starch to use as a side dish or to dress up as a main course (and if you’re lucky, plenty of leftovers – one squash yields a lot of strands!). You won’t be sorry.

So day one of trying to be an adult and plan meals went well. Added bonus: now I have delicious leftovers for lunch as well!