Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dinner....again? Didn't we have dinner yesterday?

What is the average number of items on a restaurant menu? 15? 20? 50? I don't know why it is that when I eat out I order the same thing over and over again, but I feel compulsive about making sure my family doesn't get "bored" with the meals I cook them. As if anyone could get bored with good home-cookin', I mean seriously.
I am, at heart, a disorganized person...a disorganized person who wants to change! How I long for tidy counter tops, and neat organized I know that this is never going to happen. I aspire to be one of those people who always has ingredients on hand, and isn't sending her kids out to buy milk from the convenience store half-way through mixing up a batch of pancakes. I picture myself happily making up menus from my decoupaged folder of tried and true recipes, forgetting that I don't decoupage, or use recipes, or in fact cook anything that requires more than one pot.

My version of menu planning is a combination of looking to see what is going bad in the refrigerator, and what we are over stocked on in the pantry, and then filling in the gaps by creating a shopping list on which I will probably forget to include several key ingredients like "onions" or "potatoes." I write what I'm planning on cooking on the right side of the shopping list, and a list of what we are out of on the left side, hoping that having my "menu" in front of me will trigger a sudden "ah-ha! If we are going to eat chicken quesadillas, I better get some chicken" moment before I'm checked out and on my way home. Then when I get home the shopping list goes on the fridge and at 5:30 when I realize I had better either make dinner or call the pizza guys I look at "menu" to see what I should be cooking. When all the meals are crossed off I have to make a new list. This sort of works. When I remember to do it.

So the "menu" for the next two weeks looks like this (yes there are only 8 things here, I make them eat leftovers! I know, cruel and unusual no?):

Tuna Melts
Tofu Pot Pie (my family's hands-down favorite food, and just about the only thing I make that requires multiple pots)
Greens and Coconut Milk (which will take on either an asian or indian flavor depending on my mood at the moment of conception)
Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
TVP Chili
Peanut Noodles
Chicken Soup
Fried Rice

Which is just about what my menu always looks like. Sauce on Noodles, Stew/Sauce on Rice/Grains, Things sandwiched in bread/tortillas and toasted. YAWN.

So...what is your "fall back" recipe? What do you cook over and over again because they'll always eat it, and it still tastes good after the 300th time? Lately I think my "oh hell, it's way past when I should have started making dinner" fall back is fried rice. It's as quick as stir fry, but keeps better for reheating and has the added bonus that Ragnarson will actually occasionally eat some of it.

Ragnar...I love my rice cooker.


Victor said...

my standard recipes?
beans and rice, cauliflower and hotdogs - sauted together in a pot with olive oil until the 'flower is softish, a dish loosely called "stir fry" - basically whatever veggies and meat/tofu gets made in the wok with some rice and whatever seasoning inspires me at the moment, and lastly pasta - cook up the pasta and then with some diced tomatoes i make my own pasta sauce with whatever herbs, garlic, onions, peppers, cheese are around (sometimes an old bottle of red wine gets added for a splash of extra fun and taste).

Ragnar said...

Vic, I thought beans and rice and cauliflower and hotdogs was one dish upon first read through, I was a little worried about you. Rice and Beans! I forgot about Rice and Beans, that is definitely going back on the list.

Victor said...

Lol. Yeah that would be an odd combo. :)

Yeah i love rice and beans, the best is i have my standard mix of beans, but when i'm feeling adventurous (or a certain kind of bean is on sale) i feel free to mix it up! And it's always a crowd pleaser!