Thursday, January 13, 2005

What's for Dinner?

What's for dinner? It's a question that I've come to dread.

I have to pick something to make. This alone seems to have become a chore. I'll think of something, but then I have to check the pantry and fridge to see if we have all the proper ingredients, consider whether the kids (and my wife) will enjoy it, and check the clock to see if I've left enough time to prepare whatever it is (yes, I am a major procrastinator... as I've mentioned several times). The whole cooking process just takes so much time! All too often the meal winds up being one of my "usuals" (a small handful of recipes that I'm comfortable making on short notice... mostly pasta and rice dishes), something prepackaged, and/or of dubious nutritional value.

It wasn't always like this, of course. I was vegan for nearly 10 years and, partly out of necessity (it was hard to find prepackaged food, or even takeout, that met my strict dietary constraints), was really into cooking. I made almost everything from scratch and loved it. That did take time, but this was before I had kids (or a wife for that matter) and time didn't seem to be quite so scarce. Cooking didn't seem like a chore at all but was something to be enjoyed. I looked forward to the adventure of each meal.

This is one of the things I would like to change in the New Year. I want to get back into cooking and I want our meals to be more healthful, and varied. My wife and I have been discussing using a menu system. We'd plan our meals for a week or two and use that menu as a shopping list. That should cut down on the some of my current stumbling blocks in the kitchen and make the process more efficient.

Jonathan, a friend and fellow stay-at-home dad, has been giving me recipes and cooking tips as well, but I have yet to really do anything with them. He has a set theme for each night of the week, and then picks recipes ahead of time that fit into that general guideline. He also plans ahead enough that he only has to shop once a week.

Anyway, as I said, this is one of my resolutions this year and I want to start tackling it sooner rather than later. Do you have any suggestions on healthful meal planning, recipes and cooking (particularly with little kids in mind)? What's for dinner at your house?

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