Five Weeks of Meal Planning

Sometimes hoping for things just doesn’t work.

In my mind, I had set out to spend the holiday week trying some new recipes and improving my presentation skills. After all, I actually had time to spend in the kitchen, instead of my usual running around trying to get everything in order before hunger got the best of me.

But as it turns out, that was just wishful thinking.

In fact, this whole week was one where I spent the fewest time cooking and planning meals.

But I did take away some key lessons that should carry over to the new year.


For one, I have to start understanding that sometimes I shouldn’t follow the recipe by the letter. That it is okay to adjust certain spices and flavoring based on our taste and preference. I should also account for the potency of the spices I have in my cabinet.

For one of the better meals we had this week, the Blackened Cajun Chicken (made with a side of corn on the cob and mixed vegetables), the instructions were to add half a teaspoon of red chili powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of paprika. Following those instructions proved to be quite hot, requiring us to drink almost half of the water in our apartment. I had no idea that the chili powder could be so hot!

I also learned that a salad should not be as time-consuming as I make it out to be in my head. We all want to get healthier and become more fit, and incorporating more veggies in our diet is the right way to go. Unfortunately it is proving too taxing while I try to keep my eye out on the stove or oven. But when I made the creamy pesto penne, I realized it would work best with a side salad. So I grabbed whatever was in my fridge: cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, rocca, and bresaola, added some balsamic vinegar and olive oil and there you go! Salad!  We ate that thing up.

On the other hand, I still feel like I have a lot to learn about making the right steak and picking the right cuts of beef. I have been reading a lot about what works where and how to ask for what I want. This should hopefully improve upon the so-far-so-good steak dishes that I have been making. This week’s steak option featured an Asian inspired marinade with plenty of Soy Sauce. It was accompanied by the potatoes au gratin, which I’m half-ashamed to say came out of a box. They were good though and we got two boxes as part of an offer at the supermarket- so we made the second box on Sunday.

And because family dinners require going back to the most loved foods and ones that hold some family significance, the star dish of our Christmas dinner at my parents’ was none other than kibbeh (spread in a pan) with hummus bi tahina.

The week was not without its failure though. I learned that I should never, ever, ever, attempt to make cheesecake again. That was a disaster from the get-go.

Watch this space next week- I’ll be reporting back on hosting people for dinner for the very first time. That should be fun!

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