How-To Guides

How-To Plan, Meal Plan

Today, I am going to show you how I have embarked upon this phenomena called Meal Planning. Planning isn’t really my cup of tea. And I have definitely never planned for the things that I will eat later in the day, much less plan everything I will  put in my mouth for an entire week.

To illustrate how poor planning affect me and other people, I will show you a series of images. And at the end, I will explain how to go about meal-planning and my meal plan for this week. Bear with me here, I have a degree in Psychology.

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Poor planning leads you to pack only one of your husband’s shoes. The other one was in another bag and neither shoe was worn the entire trip.

plan2

Poor planning causes you to be unprepared for spills on fancy jackets. Then, you must hand wash. It is hard.

plan3

Poor planning makes your husband upset at you. Fact.

plan4

Poor planning makes SpongeBob ugly. FACT.

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Poor planning causes an AWESOME dinosaur park to close. SUPER FACT.

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In all seriousness, what you don’t want poor planning to lead to is this. You don’t want poor planning to affect your nutrition. (These were fries at the airport in Amsterdam so I don’t think it really counts)

So here’s what we’re going to do from now on (or until I get really tired of planning and hire a chef and retire to the Bahamas): we are going to plan our meals for the week. From Monday to Sunday, all dinners will be accounted for. The previous Sunday, we will grocery shop and we’re going to give ourselves a day off on Saturdays.

How do we go about this, you ask?

#1.  Decide the meals you will be cooking that week. This is much harder than it seems. You want to give yourself enough variety and nutrition, but at the same time, you don’t want to be wasteful to the produce you may buy that week.

Here’s how I started:

Monday: Crock Pot Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna.

alright, easy enough.

#2. List out a general recipe for your meal. You can skip thing of which you have plenty. If it’s a new recipe you’re going to use, then go ahead, list out exact amounts. This is a personal guide for you, so tailor it to your needs. For the lasagna I wrote down:

Filling: Spinach, mushrooms, shredded cheese, walnuts
Parmesan sauce: 3 Tbsp. butter, 2 Tbsp. flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup  KRAFT Parmesan Cheese– cooked on stove

#3. Add a column for anything related to the meal you will be making. For the lasagna, I wrote out the need to get everything prepared the night before. I don’t generally do that, so it was necessary to remind myself that I had to do the preparation ahead of time.

Congrats! You’ve gotten one meal out of the way! Let’s move on.

(Note: we’re going to a cooking class on Tuesday, so that day I’ve just blocked off)

#4. Knowing your own consumption rates, determine other meals using the same ingredients. We never go through an entire bunch of spinach or an entire batch of mushrooms, so I knew that this would be a common ingredient for at least two or three meals throughout the week.

I like to mix it up a bit so we’re not eating pasta or rice  two days in a row, so I came up with:

Wednesday: Cheese and Spinach pizza.

again, list out the general ingredient list and/or recipe.

#5. Keep going! I had to do a lot of research. You know, finding recipes you’ve wanted to try out, sure-fire meals you’ve been craving, or just making something different. This is Thursday:

Thursday: Couscous salad with honey vinaigrette and avocado panini

#6. Don’t be afraid of holes or something that’s not totally planned. Sometimes you just can’t come up with enough ideas. Leave it blank. The world won’t come crashing to a halt and your puppy won’t run away from home or anything. You have plenty of time to figure this out. Here’s what my schedule looked like for Friday:

Friday: Neil’s dinner!

You can revisit your plan like I did today and decide that hm. That mushroom bourguignon idea was really somethin’. And if Neil doesn’t feel like thinking about what to make Friday night, that will be the backup plan.

See? Just be cool man.

#7. Give yourself an off day. C’mon. You know you don’t always feel like cooking. Plus, those leftovers really start to pile up sometimes. So take a Break Day.

Now, I could have done that on Friday with Neil’s dinner night, but I decided that Saturdays are just always going to be my off day. That’s because sometimes we go over to my parent’s for dinner, sometimes we go out, and sometimes we just eat leftovers. So that took care of Saturday:

Saturday: Leftovers/Parent’s house/Go out

And that’s it! I wrapped up the week with our Sunday Morning Grocery Shopping and

Sunday: Spaghetti with garlic bread

It takes some organization and time to figure out your schedule and then decide on a food schedule, but I tell ya, it’s well worth the effort. I stayed on target grocery shopping this past Sunday and you save so much more when you know exactly what ingredients you will be using that week.

So go forth and meal plan! Start with just the menu for one week and you’ll just want to keep going from there! I hope to keep this up and I will share our menus on the newly instated Menu Mondays!

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How to dice an onion…with minimal tears!

I have a confession to make: I didn’t know how to dice an onion without crying profusely until just last year. But now that I know the secret, I’m here to share it with all you onion-criers out there!

First secret: a cold onion doesn’t cause as many tears as a room temperature onion. I’ve been refrigerating my onions for a while now!

Second secret: The tear causing agents are mostly in the root and tip of the onion, chop those off and no more tears!

So here’s how you do it:

Onion and knife

Start with an onion and a sharp knife. As always, I use my trusty santoku knife.

Cut root to tip

Cut the onion from root to tip.

Chop off root and tip

Now, chop off the root and tip!

Peel

Peel the onion.

Slice root to tip

And slice the onion, lengthwise from where the root used to be, to where the tip used to be.

Rotate and slice

Rotate the slices 90 degrees and chop some more.

Done!

Until you’re done.

Congratulations! You’ve diced an onion!

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How to peel a Potato

Do you own a potato peeler? Those oh so very useful devices that peel those oh so wonderful potatoes? Oh you do? Then you shouldn’t read this page.

Because, dear internet, I do not have one. And since I’ve discovered the secret to peeling potatoes with a knife so fast and efficiently, I don’t think I will be buying one in the near future either.

So here’s how you do it:

A knife and a potato

Start with a potato and a knife. You don’t have to use the largest knife you own like I do. It’s just that my trusty santoku knife is my all-time favorite knife. It’s so sharp! You need a sharp knife in the kitchen. It is a must.

Stabilize the end

Now, we’re gonna stabilize the potato by making a small cut along the bottom. Make sure you run the knife through at a 90 degree angle! That way, the potato will be able to stand up on its own on the cutting board.

Position knife at the top

Like so. Now pretend I’m holding the potato. Start at the top and run your knife along the edge of the potato.

Run knife along the side making a thin slice

Take care that you’re only PEELING the potato. Not slicing it. You don’t wanna lose too much of the yummy potato-ness along with the skin.

Keep going around the potato

Continue doing this all around the potato.

Awesome

Until you’re done! Then give yourself a pat on the back and a thumbs up. And then go eat four cookies. You’ve earned it.

Shiny and naked

See how nice and shiny and…naked your potato will be?? Awesome.

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How to pit a cherry

Some of you probably have super swanky cherry pitters. Me, I never bought into that, mainly because I couldn’t justify buying an entire contraption for the sole purpose of pitting cherries and only cherries. So when I came across this article, I knew there was hope!

Now, don’t make fun of my blurry pictures. I really did try to make them as clear as I could. It’s not my fault!

Here is what you need:

Cherries
An icing tip (round is best but you can use any kind your heart desires)
Somewhere to make a cherry juice mess.

Pastry tip

Start with a pastry tip. Stainless steel or plastic or whatever you may have on hand.

Pastry tip and Cherry

Put one cherry (the side where you removed the stem side down) onto the pastry tip.

Pressing on cherry

And then press!!!

Protruding cherry

Press until the pit comes right out.

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And there you have it. A cherry with its pit taken right out. Without a cherry pitter.

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And after you’ve pitted a gajillion cherries and sliced them into two with the biggest knife you own, you will have a cherry juice crime scene. Don’t tell my mother.

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