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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

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Not at all! I give you (almost) full credit for the fact that my pickier-than-picky 7yo will eat pesto. (I get a teeny bit of credit because I'm the one who bribed her with a quarter to try it.) ;)

Would love to see your recipes in November! :) The spreadsheet situation is pretty darn impressive, I must say. I use scrap paper myself. Hee.

Spreadsheets, huh? I've never been so technical about it, but I do love cooking. It relaxes me after a long day at the office (and lately, they have all been long days...) and I love eating food I've made myself.

Plus, when I cook, I can control what vegetables go into a meal, which is a plus. Usually, I double the vegetables in a dish like chili or soup.

One recipe on Epicurious that we use all the time (with Penzeys spices, natch) is the one for Turkey Chili with White Beans. It is delicious! Also, check out the Chicken, Corn and Lime Soup. I make a lot of chili and soups in the winter because they freeze well, are healthy and I can make them in big batches.

What do you use for spreadsheets, sister? You can totally get openoffice for your Mac for free. It's called "NeoOffice".

Sounds great - will you share your recipes? I'm always looking for good ideas to add to my options. We have a lot of the same things over and over - it's usually DH who comes up with the new stuff. :-)

Isn't it crazy how much is involved in cooking? From gathering ingredients to prep to clean up, it's a long process. No wonder for most of human history it's been practically a full-time job in itself. I used to cook every night, but now I just make everything for the week in one evening and microwave the rest of the week. I love AllRecipes but haven't gone on Epicurious as much. Have you seen Cooking for Engineers?? I think Bryan would enjoy that site and cook something himself :-)

As someone with a newly mobile baby, what amazes me is how people are able to cook a full meal while watching a baby. How do you do it? I guess maybe it's easier if you live in a house with a real kitchen with floor space for baby to play, as opposed to an apartment with a narrow galley kitchen?

Oh, please do post about what you're cooking during NaBloPoMo! I'm thinking about doing the same myself.

Have you tried Everyday Food (magazine or website)? It is my cooking Bible.

Cooking for your people is part of life; it would make a great addition to your postings!

You should read Cooks Illustrated magazine. I think you would find it very inspiring. Cooking blogs I like are Smitten Kitchen and Homesick Texan.

If there is one staple I swear by for meals for small children, it's frozen meatballs. They make spaghetti night easier, they go great with mac-n-cheese, and they are yum with BBQ sauce. Plus you can make just a few for the small person if you and dad want to eat something a lot less child-friendly.

I can't wait for your cooking posts! Maybe you can share your spreadsheet too!

I don't think it would be boring at all. Maybe it will give me some ideas--although we are vegetarian, and most omnivores do go for their meat at dinner.

I hope you don't mind if I use you as an example next time my friends are teasing me about my meal planning. Like you, I plan meals a week at a time (although not 7 meals--I figure we'll go out/feel lazy and just want veggie burgers once/do leftovers or improvise once or twice) and then make a list based on recipes. Some of my friends think this is crazy. But your spreadsheet system makes me look like such a slacker! I have only just now gotten back into real cooking since the baby was born. I'm somehow managing to start getting some of the prep done before Brian comes home to take over some of the baby care--the baby being able to do more on her own and the ability to carry her on my back in the Beco are definitely helping with that.

Do you have The New Best Recipe? It's the book from Cooks Illustrated. I mostly use it for their baked goods, but I think you might be into all their experiments.

I'd love to see what you are cooking. My husband is possibly the most picky eater of all time (really, he puts three year olds to shame) so I get really tired of making the same things over and over again. I am always looking for ideas to steal!

Yay for weekly meal planning! The most stressful thing for me about cooking dinner each night is DECIDING what to cook for dinner each night. I'd ask my husband what he wants, and get an "eh, whatever is fine with me" every time. Ugh!

We divided up the types of meals we have into several categories (pastas, chicken dishes, mexican dishes, etc.) When the weekly grocery ad comes out, we look at our list of options and try to pick something from each category that fits in with whatever is on sale that week. I used to try to assign things to a night, but that was more complicated than necessary. I haven't yet put prices into a spreadsheet, but that is an excellent idea. My husband is addicted to spreadsheets, maybe we'll try that out.

I LOVE my Gourmet subscription (and also the sites Epicurious and AllRecipes). I don't have much trouble cooking with a mobile toddler because the toddler typically wants to be wherever I am, so I just let her buzz about my knees while I'm cooking. Also, I let her play in the tupperware cabinet (I just have to remember to watch my step).

I also do weekly meal plans, although I seem to have an allergy to technology in this regard. I used to try to do my meal planning electronically, but I'd always think of something to add to the list when the computer was off, and by the time it was on again I'd have forgotten. So I do all my meal planning low-tech: on a piece of notebook paper that stays near the kitchen with a pen, so that I can add things when I think of them. It's been working great for me so far!

I use the spreadsheet for my meal-planning, too - it makes things *so* much easier. To the right of the recipe I have columns for meat, veggies, dairy/egg, bread, and "pantry check" items so I can run through and put items on my list in a logical order.

Instead of making a new plan every week, though, each season (in theory, anyway) I put together a two-week rotation. That seems to be a good interval so that we don't get sick of what I'm making but I'm able to practice recipes a number of times, which makes them quicker to cook and easier to shop for(since everything is packaged in such large quantities - les waste).

I love your ingredient price estimate list. AWESOME idea. I'm implementing it immediately. :)

Posting about what you cooked would be awsome! It is my favorite thing, but also gets to be exhausting (the thinking of what to cook, that is). So I love to know what others make for dinner.

We are in such a food rut in our house that I am searching for any and all inspiration on new things to try. Please post on this, before my kids turn orange from all the mac & cheese they've been eating!

You should also check out Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. The one that came out before the book about Parisian food had this plan that if you found 10 meat preparations, 10 veggie preparations, and 10 side preparations that you liked, you would have a system for interchanging (gasp) meals you liked on a revolving basis to get you through busy times.

I love the idea but haven't put it into practice...yet.

LOL! I seriously thought I was the only person who used a spreadsheet for my grocery/menu planning! My husband was so impressed (being a geeky, Excel wizard himself) when he saw it ;).

That's a great idea! I love to cook, and I was unemployed for about six months two years ago and I made complicated meals every night (I have no kids) but now I work nights so I rarely cook. But the planning in advance would really help -- I think if I had all the ingredients on hand I'd be more inspired to cook regularly. BTW my favorite cooking mag is Cook's Illustrated. They do extensive tests in their test kitchen on different recipes every month, finding the best methods for making whatever the dish is.

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