Friday, January 11, 2008

Doing the Friday Food Follow Up

I feel so brain dead by the time Friday rolls around. That's too bad because Friday is a time to look back on the week in food. It's a time to calculate the successes and failures of your cooking from the last week. It's an opportunity to use this new information to make the next week in food better.

Sometimes it's not about whether the meals tasted good or bad. Instead it can focus on too much repetition during the week (ie. if I have to eat that raspberry fig bar one more morning I'll kill someone!) or not enough (ie. who ate all the Thai noodles, I wanted to take them for lunch too!) or mismanagement of resources (ie. where can 6 loaves of bread go in just 5 days? Who's eating tons of toast again??).

Being successfully frugal in the kitchen requires paying attention to individual family members' needs, within limits. Personally, if I make a batch of muffins or quick bread I am willing to eat the same thing for breakfast, and even an afternoon snack, all week. The convenience of it already being made outweighs the boredom of repetition for me. It drives Jim a little batty. He can eat it for breakfast or he can eat it for snack but not both for 5 days in a row. His request for a little more variety isn't unreasonable especially when you consider that he is willing to deal with repetition on especially hectic weeks. Knowing this, I can plan better for the coming week.

The kids need more guidance in the kitchen and are most often the culprits in the missing bread because I ate a lot of toast mysteries. They all need reminding about what's an acceptable snack and what will throw our food planning into a tizzy if eaten. Mine get more of a say in the whole process if they're willing to help with the cooking.

Friday is also a great day to cull together the remaining leftovers of the week into one lovely, fridge emptying meal. My challenge is to create a meal from leftover pasta with sauce and tvp, split pea soup, some beets and their cooking liquid, some peanut sauce, some fennel with lima beans and couscous and three burgers that were made of leftovers themselves. Sometimes you can combine them and sometimes you just need to heat everything up and serve it buffet style.

I'm not entirely sure how I'll put these leftovers together but I'm leaning toward combining the pasta dish with the fennel dish, topping it with Fake Fake (a parmesan substitute that's a mix of ground walnuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and seasoned salt) and baking it in the oven. The split pea soup, beets and burgers could either become more burgers or another soup. I lean toward making it into burgers because that particular batch of split pea soup wasn't my best.

Does all this planning sound like too much work? Don't kid yourself, the time you save by not thinking about your food for the next week is negated by the elevation in stress level of standing before an open fridge, trying to figure out what's for dinner knowing you have to get your son/daughter to swim lessons in 1/2 an hour. I know because I've been there.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more about the planning. At the moment I am working full time so my husband is in charge of cooking, without planning and getting everything in he would be lost.

thinking once a week is brilliant if it means that you have one less thing to worry about in the week!

Ruthie said...

I'm excited to find out what you chose to make for dinner on Friday. :)

Katie said...

I wound up making the baked pasta and burgers like I originally planned.