Friday, January 29, 2010

It's All About Variety

(Remember, the answer to the quiz will be on Monday)

So, we currently pay rent, a mortgage, and 2 bills for all my utilities.  And, Brian is the only one working in our family.  So, how do we do this (I've been asked)?  Some of it is due to Brian's salary, some of it is savings, and some of it is personal cost cutting.  We don't buy a whole lot of things - no new clothes, new toys, or anything else miscellaneous.  When we do need to buy things, we look for sales.

But I think the most important thing is that I cook... almost every night and almost entirely from scratch.  Before Mr. Monkey, we were going out to dinner a lot - 4-5 times a week.  We were also going out to lunch almost every day.  Then when my salary disappeared and Monkey appeared we needed to cut back and eating out was the most obvious place.

Yes, cooking dinner is easy since I'm not working.  I'm home to prep and get things ready.  And, I like to cook - a lot.  I like to see a recipe and then watch it come to fruition.  Or, I like to open my fridge and see what is in there that I can use to create dinner.  And, more importantly, cooking every night isn't odd to me - this is how I was raised. 

As far back as I can remember (which sadly isn't that far because of my faulty memory) my mom cooked dinner and the 6 of us sat down together to eat it.  I remember my Dad poking my sister in the elbow (because she was cutting with her elbows in the air), I remember my brother bickering, I remember setting the table and the song my mom used to sing to get us to set the table (Mable, Mable, Mable set the table.... Mable, Mable, Mable set it now), and I remember the clean up.  I hope that Evan remembers these things one day too... especially the clean up because I'm ready to pass that along.

My biggest challenge about cooking at home is me.  If it were left up to Brian we would have the same 7 meals every week.  Monday would be pork chops, Tuesday hamburgers, etc.  But as you may remember, I get bored easily.  I get bored with eating the same things / textures and I get bored with cooking the same things.   So, I need to shake things up.  Thank God for cooking shows, cookbooks, and the Internet.  I use all of these to plan menus.

Here is what we ate this week:

Sunday: Steaks with a blue cheese cream sauce (OMG - thank you Pioneer Woman, it was even better than you said it would be), mashed potatoes, and salad

Monday: Hamburgers (frozen patties from Whole Foods), fries for Brian, baked beans for me

Tuesday: Farfalle with the best spaghetti sauce ever (you didn't lie Smitten Kitchen), amazing meatballs (my new usual recipe but I think making it with Laura's Beef and cooking it on a rack on a baking pan made all the difference), and salad

Wednesday: Lentil Stew with Italian Chicken sausage (I owe this yumminess to Simply Recipes and to a husband who is willing to try almost anything) - if you make this one, make sure to use deli counter bacon, it makes all the difference

Thursday: Pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, roasted brussel sprouts (mmm, burnt to veggie goodness - we had to have the window open most of the night to air out the loft), leftover mashed potatoes

On the horizon is a night of leftovers, olive oil poached halibut, pork chops stuff with spinach, feta and pine nuts (already made, leftover from when my in-laws were visiting), and easy chicken pot pie. 

So, as long as I can keep up this type of variety, I'm happier eating my cooking than going out. Saving money and being happy about it is definitely as good as it gets!

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