Friday, February 4, 2011

Love Is In the Air

With Valentine's Day around the corner, I thought I'd share some info on a little affair I've been having with my kitchen. The local restaurants are really upset about it, but oh well, I'm over those relationships.

So, cooking. I love to cook when I know what to make, have all the ingredients and am not starving or exhausted. I hate to cook when I have to come up with something to make, I don't have everything I need and I'm hungry, tired and cranky.

I know that a really large portion of the bad stuff I eat comes from restaurants and processed foods, so I know I need to cook more at home. I also know that a meal out for my family is a $50 deal every time but eating at home costs a fraction of that. I need to love cooking. All the time. Here is what I do to get over my issues and enjoy myself in the kitchen.

Starting with recipes are a disaster. I have boxes, books, magazines, files with handwritten notes, electronic files saved on my all-recipes account. I rarely know where to look for something good and end up going to the same recipes over and over, so I took a few hours a while ago and went through everything (well aside from all the cookbooks). I pulled all of the recipes that sounded good and clean and put them on the computer. Some were already there and they are all different file types, but I can better organize that later. I printed everything, and put them in page protectors in a binder. That way they are a little more spill proof because I make a mess when I cook. Best move I made when doing this is creating a table of contents. I add recipes as I find them now and update the table of contents now and then.

I sit down every Sunday or Monday morning with my binder and a note pad. I go through and choose five meals for the week. I only plan five so that I can eat left-overs or something else the other two nights. I write these down (being sure not to plan them out Monday, Tuesday, etc as I never know what I'm going to feel like eating) and hang them on the fridge. Then I go back to the recipes and make a shopping list. I always double check it with the fridge and cupboards so I don't end up with four boxes of chicken stock or something.

I shop every Monday. I hit up Trader Joe's first, then Whole Foods on my way back for anything I couldn't find at TJ's. I pick up The Whole Deal (Whole Food's monthly newsletter, coupon book thing) every time and use all the coupons I can. This month there is a $1 off the gluten free bread I love, so I've gotten a loaf every week. It freezes fine. I take advantage of the coupons as well as the recipes in The Whole Deal. There are some really good ones.

Now I am ready to cook for the week. I know what to make and I know I have everything I need. I have a snack around 3:30 so I'm not starving before dinner. I can't do much about being tired after work. I try to get enough rest, but some days are better than others. I get home, change into comfy shoes and get to cooking. I love it. I am trying so many new things and it is a lot of fun. Now if I can figure out how to love the clean up afterward, I would really be in business.


  1. You are an inspiration Amber. I am notorious for tearing our recipes in magazines and never finding them again. lol

  2. Amber, You can never have too much chicken stock! ;) Keep some basics on hand and you can make ANYTHING! Use the recipes as a guideline and improvise. People may ask how you made the meal and you can't remember, but that's ok! This is how you have a love affair with your kitchen. Baking is a science, but cooking is an art. XOXO, Steph

  3. I totally agree with Stephanie on the stocking up! I know that I'm a Mormon hoarder, but I consider myself low on chicken stock if I only have two boxes. :) I always have plenty of diced tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and canned beans on hand, plus staples like rice, dried beans and lentils, dried onions (to use in a pinch), pasta, etc. I buy meat when it is on sale and freeze it for when I'll actually need it.

    I like to get some things at Costco (non-perishables) that I use a lot-- they carry a lot of organic and clean products these days.

    I love to cook as well, and love reading recipes, food blogs, etc. is one of my go-tos for new ideas, and I just got a Gluten and Dairy Free cookbook that I am loving for my family, although I'll admit it probably has more sugar in it than one might consider to be healthy.

    Keep it up! Your family will love having that quality time together. I think that home made family dinner is a ritual that strengthens and nurtures families. And you are right-- it saves a lot of money.