Thank heavens, or rather my mother, for The Food Nanny!
My mom got me this new cookbook, along with two darling aprons from Anthropologie, for Christmas. These gifts, along with my swanky new trash can (yes, I asked for a trash can for Christmas, and yes…I love it!), have set the stage for some major reform in my kitchen. And the timing could not have been better, as I had been thinking that one of my New Year’s resolutions had better be to improve at fixing the family dinner every night.
I had always made sure that we sat down together for family dinner every night, but things just had not been going smoothly in this department for quite some time. I had actually come to the point where I just didn’t enjoy making dinner anymore…in fact, I had come to dread it.
A few things that contributed to this problem:
- I felt like I’d been rotating through the same ten recipes for who knows how long…
- I was bored with said recipes, but didn’t feel like I had the time to track down and try out new ones.
- I had always found it very difficult to stay within my grocery budget, so I figured I simply couldn’t afford to make a nice meal every night.
- I HATED trying to wash, chop, peel, handle raw chicken, and cook over a burning stove with small children running circles around me and clinging to my legs while screaming.
Food Nanny to the rescue! I put off opening this book for a good week, just because I wasn’t sure I was really ready to start what I knew was going to be a huge commitment. When I finally did open it, however, I couldn’t put it down. I felt myself becoming inspired to provide better meals every night for my family. In fact, it was so inspiring that I felt myself whipped into a euphoric frenzy and….ok, not quite like that. I’m not an Obama enthusiast.
I really like the approach to dinner that Liz outlines in her book. I have adopted it for myself and it has helped me regain control of the whole process (from meal planning, grocery shopping, and trying to stay within my grocery budget to the actual preparation and serving of dinner each night). It has been working very well for me so far. Some improvements upon the past:
- My husband and I have both enjoyed trying out many new recipes.
- Despite the default “YUCK” reaction that my kids greet the sight of anything new with, after actually trying the dishes, they too have mostly come to enjoy some new flavors on their little palates as well.
- I used to be in the habit of making three or four good dinners a week, and then just forcing the leftovers on everyone in between. Now, I make a nice dinner every night and have my husband take the leftovers to work with him the next day for lunch. He is thus eating healthier lunches (less fast food and frozen boxed things), and I think he likes the change.
- A lot of the time there are enough leftovers for me to have some the next day for lunch as well. This is HUGE for me, as I never feel like going through the effort of making a decent lunch for myself, nor am I interested in what the kids are eating (PB&J or mac n’ cheese for instance), so I either just scrounge around the kitchen for the nearest thing edible or end up skipping lunch all together. So, much healthier for me.
- With Liz’s “theme” method, I don’t have to rack my brain to create a varied meal plan for the next week. I have a different theme for every night, so for Monday I go to that section of the book and pick out a recipe, then for Tuesday I move onto the next section and pick one from there, and so on. So even if I have only, say, six default Italian dishes that I like to make, we would still only be eating each of those dishes once every six weeks.
The most helpful thing about this new cookbook for me is the designation of theme nights, and then having the book divided into sections accordingly. The next big project on my agenda is to go through all of my old recipes and throw out the ones I never use and categorize the rest by these themes in a binder.
I still find it difficult to do the actual dinner prep with the kids running crazy through my kitchen and climbing up my legs, but I have actually been enjoying the process it little bit more, and I have found that the results are well worth the efforts! Oh, and I have also found it to be much more fun to cook while wearing a cute apron…it’s all about playing the part, I guess….
So thank you Mom, and thank you Liz!