I love to cook, I think it’s a great combination of creative process, mode of self-expression and care-taking of others. I remember baking my first apple pie with the apples from a tree in our backyard, I don’t remember how old I was but I think it was probably somewhere between 5th and 7th grade. I recall working the crust by hand and then the endless peeling of apples to make the filling. Boy was it worth the effort, my first pie was such a success my Mom refused to bake again. My Dad really enjoyed homemade sweets so I would make cookies or warm tapioca pudding because it made him happy.
Neither my Mom or Grandmother were particularly talented in the kitchen, but we still had lots of weekend dinners with the table full of family. I really miss those big family dinners, there’s little I like better than sharing a meal and lively conversation with people I care about.
Lately, I’ve met a lot of women who, for one reason or another, don’t find any joy in the kitchen. There’s the Assistant Manager at our regular grocery store who always asks what’s for dinner, my good friends at my Daughter’s youth group who joke about getting copies of my grocery lists, and even friends cross-country on Facebook. I have been thinking that maybe I should try sharing more of my shopping and cooking tips more regularly.
My first tip is this, if you are cooking for more than one person than you need to let those you’re cooking for know if you have to shoulder the responsibly of cooking they have a job beyond eating. Each person who shares meals and eats in your household must contribute to the weekly meal planning. When my kids and I lived with my Dad I asked him for one meal idea, and both my kids had to suggest one or two meals, I filled in the other nights to either make use of leftovers or buying in bulk. Some weeks I negotiated differing meal choices because I either already had two somewhat labor intensive meals or several higher cost meals. This allowed everyone to have some meals they chose and I didn’t have to choose all 7 meals at one time.
Obviously, tip two is hidden within tip one plan all your meals a week at a time this gives you a chance to buy in bulk, plan ahead and not waste time and money with extra trips to the grocery store. During the tough economic Winter we’ve just been through I actually pushed this out to a two week list with shopping happening about once every 10 days or so it really helped me keep costs down while still being able to cook good food.