Sunday, September 23, 2007

Delicious Distractions

So Friday, Tzarina and I were talking about the way that I cook and the way that I buy groceries. I don't plan out a menu for the week like many of you do, but I never have to go to the grocery store in order to make dinner. In fact, I only go to the grocery store once or twice a month. I thought I'd share how that works.

I have about 40 or so dinners in my "working vocabulary." Meaning that I have the ingredients memorized and either don't need a recipe, or only need to glance at it briefly. I keep the ingredients for those 40 dinners in my house all the time. (Naturally, many of them overlap.) Before I go to the grocery store (read: Costco) I make a list of things I am out of, not really things I need to make specific dinners. I then buy those things in bulk. The Duke and I have a good portion of our garage dedicated to storable food, as we don't have a pantry, as well a freezer chest for freezable items.

This is great for three reasons: I always have a choice as to what to make for dinner (I tend to cook according to how much time I have and what I am feeling like, a major reason that a weekly menu doesn't work for me.), because I buy our food in bulk I save money in the long run, and I only have to go to the store once or twice a month- a big bonus for me, as I don't really enjoy this activity.

As for fresh items, veggies, ect. I employ a bi-weekly delivery service for those kind of things.

I have talked to other of my friends about how I buy food and cook and didn't realize that it was unusual for a long time, as both The Queen, and my MIL cook and store food this way. In Utah, perhaps, where big familes are common this is also more common, but I think it's a great way to take care of the needs for our small family too.

I told Tzarina that I would email her some of my working recipes. They are nothing fancy, just good home style food, but since I am typing them up anyway, I thought I would post them here for others, if they are so inclined.

These two soups make a lot. Enough for 6-8 people. I make them for the Duke and I anyway because they freeze well. It's nice to have a "frozen dinner" on a busy night that isn't a frozen dinner at all.

Chicken Noodle Soup (from my own head)

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
8 cups water
12 bullion cubes
6-7 carrots (peeled and slices)
1 med onion, chopped
3 med potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1 can of corn or 1.5 cups of frozen corn
2-3 stalks of celery (I often leave this out if I don't have it)
2 Tbls minced garlic
abt 2 cups pasts of choice
the following amounts are approx and should be added to taste or can be substituted:
1 tsp dryed parsley
1 tsp dryed oregano
1 tsp dryed thyme
1/2 tsp dryed rosemary
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Throw it all in a pot and cook until the pasta is soft.

Taco Soup (from my MIL- originally from her friends at the school where she taught)

1 lbs ground beef, browned and drained (I use the same pot I cook the soup in.)
1 large can of tomato juice
1 green pepper (or red, or Anaheim, I've used any of them)
three cans of beans (I use pinto, red, and kidney- it doesn't much matter)
1 can of corn or 1.5 cups frozen corn
1 packet of taco seasoning
abt 2 cups pasta of choice

Throw it all in pot, cook 'til the pasta is soft, sever with cheese and sour cream.


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