Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Grocery Shopping and Menu Planning

I'm totally procrastinating: reading blogs mindlessly, signing up for GoodReads which I totally don't need to do, and playing Scrabble (sorry, I mean Wordscraper) on Facebook. Now I'm posting a blog to add to my procrastination.

All of this procrastination is about avoiding making out a grocery list. Creating a grocery list means that I need to come up with a menu for the next week, and, frankly, I'm tired of all our regular food. You'd think that with an extensive list of family favorites like this, a cabinet full of cookbooks, and, of course, 120,000,000 recipe sites on the internet, that menu planning should be simple. But I find it grueling.

Part of the problem is that I could eat chips and salsa and a turkey sandwich every day and be perfectly happy. But I'll eat pretty much anything unless there is mayonnaise involved. I like any food much better if someone else prepares it for me. In other words, I see cooking as a mandatory part of life, but I have no passion for it. Dr. H. loves to cook. My friend Blogless Leigh loves to cook. I just don't have that gene. I'm a competent cook, and I even enjoy cooking if lots of friends and a party are involved (OK, really it's the entertaining part I enjoy). I think that the closest I could come to using the word "drudgery" in my life would have to be in the cooking-daily-meals department.

Still, it's impossible to be grumpy for long. The sun in shining, the birds are singing quite boisterously, and we are blessed to have ample money for our daily bread. (We are long past those first days of marriage when we had a $25/week grocery allowance.)

So tell me: do you like to cook? And what is your favorite source for recipes? Maybe I can be inspired.


  1. I like to cook if I have time. But I'm a lot like you. I can eat a sandwich for every meal and be content. Or beans and toast.

    I love tasty food, though, so I do make meals that vary. My husband is a picky eater, and so is one of my sons, and that usually is what dampens my ardor for cooking. I can find and am willing to make interesting or exotic recipes, but when I have two loved ones who basically want beef or pork (alternating, please) at every meal - well, it's b-o-r-i-n-g.

    I use my cookbooks (I have lots - you can see them on LibraryThing; I'm LauraLLD) and a few websites (Baking Bites, Mommy Cooks, One Hot Stove, The Perfect Pantry, etc.) for inspiration.

  2. Gavin could live on Chips and Salsa and turkey sandwiches! My husband could live on Mac and cheese or PB&Js. Ki is too picky to eat anything and Connor is pretty picky. I love cooking, but hate cooking for my family, as no one really likes anything. they eat everything so PLAIN that most recipes don't do much good.

    The worst part of cooking is all that CLEAN UP afterwards!

    I'll share Brian's fav chicken recipe with you. Maybe it'll be change for you.

  3. I'm sure you know not to expect any inspiration from me when it comes to cooking! I feel the exact same way...and Mike doesn't like it either...just wanted to thank you for the Margarita chicken recipe last week to add to my regulars! you need to make the chicken cordon bleu like I made for you all...

  4. LOL! I hear ya. I'm the same way. Need to be making one now. Ha! I could live off coffee each day.

  5. here is it. Brian loves India Cuisine (me, too). He got this recipe from a friend of a friend from India. or something like that. It's not a quick 15 minute, wa-la dinner! But Brian loves it (and so does Gavin. even I will put aside being a vegitarian for a couple bites). I was bored while I was typing it.

    serves 6


    Rinse the chickies under cool running water and pat them dry. Cut them apart at the joints. Cut the breasts and back sections in half. Remove as much skin as you can. (Or just buy a 6 pound bag of chicken breasts like I do)

    Place the cold skinless chickies in a bowl. Add salt and lemon/lime juice. Toss well to coat. Though I bet they were warmer with their feather coat. Set them aside for 30 minutes.

    Place yogurt, garlic and spices in a food processor or blender on HIGH until well mixed. Pour the mixture over the cold naked chickens to coat them. It’s not as cozy as a feather coat, but better now.

    Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 24 hours. We prefer 3 days. By now the chickies no longer care that they are dead and naked.

    You can add the food color in the blender or wait until you are ready to grill.

    When the time is right, fire up the grill!!!

    Keep the marinade in a bowl to spoon on the chicken at they cook. It takes only about 15 minutes to cook. I assume I don’t need to tell you how to grill chicken, so I’ll leave it here.

  6. I love cook...just don't love dishes. I try to find things I can make and not dirty too many pots and pans.

    I love French food but find that it takes too many pans to make sauces and all so I mainly avoid this unless it's a special occasion.

    Two things that I love and will make tomorrow are:

    1. Posole. This is a full meal with veggies, meat, and carbs.

    1 lb. boneless pork loin
    1 28 oz. can whole stewed tomatoes
    1 28 oz. can of Mexican hominy
    1 19 oz. can Las Palmas Red Chile Sauce
    Chicken or beef broth (I use 2-4 cups of broth and 2 cups water)
    1 chopped onion
    4 diced or crushed cloves garlic
    1 bay leaf
    2 tbsp. oregano

    Brown loin in a little oil on the stove (optional). Put in crock pot. Saute onions & garlic (optional), then put in crock pot. Add everything except hominy. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for high for 6 hours. Add hominy in for last hour or so of cooking.

    Meat should fall apart and tomatoes should break up easily. Serve with tortillas and garnish with lemon, dried oregano, shredded cabbage, and onions.

    2. Easy "Fresh" Salsa. Tastes like restaurant salsa...mmm.

    1 28 oz can stewed whole tomatoes
    1 clove garlic
    1/2 white onion (roughly chopped into about 4 chunks)
    3 canned, pickled jalapenos (for mild salsa, 2 seeded & 1 whole)
    1/3 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves

    In blender, layer from top to bottom in this order: onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro. Pulse until everything is incorporated (very little time needed...don't overblend).
    Delicious with posole, beans & rice, with chips, on nachos, with enchilada casserole, to make spanish rice, etc. This also makes a delicious and non-fat salad dressing for taco salad.

  7. i do love to cook. i do not like the planning involved. i would love to make the list and send someone else to the store. one thing that has helped me in planning, is that i pick one cookbook a week. i used to pull them all out of the cabinet and go through every one of them. i also try to make one new thing a week. i've also realized recently that i have TWO sous chefs in the house. my son avery is 11 and cora shea is 9. they BOTH love to cook and are more than happy to cook the whole meal or help!

  8. Thank you, empathetic friends! Amie and Kaber, thanks for the recipes! Keep them coming!

  9. I love to cook... I am very spontaneous though... I don't like to make up menus ahead and plan out big lists. I go with my gut and although I do have some favorite old recipes or cookbooks that I use, I also really enjoy just making up recipes whenever I can. Sometimes I have the problem, though, of not being able to duplicate something that is a big hit with the family. A running joke among my husband and my boys is that if I make something that they all love, they will probably never see it again!

    There are two things I would note that I have done when I can't decide what's for dinner. One is, to simply go to the store and see what looks good in the meat case. Especially if they have just marked the meat down because it's within 3 days of it's "sell by" date... it's a good way to save a little money and sometimes be inspired to cook something you hadn't thought of sitting at home.

    The other thing I've been known to do, and it's a little more complicated... is sometimes I'll have a couple key ingredients in my house that I know I need to use, but I need a new idea of how to use them... So I go online and type in the names of those two or three ingredients and do a search for recipes that contain all of them. You never know what you might turn up that way!

    I'm sure none of this is terribly helpful to you, Sarah :) But perhaps it is at least every-so-slightly entertaining? Ha ha.

  10. I love to cook, though I love it more when there isn't a toddler grabbing my leg while I'm trying to do it. I have all my favorite recipes online at These have all been tested and approved by my test kitchen :)

    I also like to procrastinate on Facebook. I heard about the new Scrabble app, but haven't tried it yet. Right now my favorite games are Word Twist and Scramble.

  11. I use fairly regularly when searching for something new. (That is where I found the recipe for the Spinach Tortellini Soup that I brought to the pumpkin carving party last year.)

    I have mixed feelings about cooking. I love to cook when I am in the mood; I despise it when I "have to cook." Wait... I don't like doing anything that I think I "have to do." Hmm... perhaps that is a character flaw that I should work on.


  12. I don't mind cooking, but I despise meal planning. Not that I prefer opening the freezer door at 5pm and trying to figure out what to make for dinner, but the idea of that is less overwhelming than the idea of meal planning. Bizarre.

  13. I do not enjoy cooking. My husband is the one that enjoys cooking. He even bakes apple pies. Unfortunately, he is in Iraq and our menu has been less than exciting since he left. I suppose I should use this time to experiment and perfect some recipes before he gets back. It's hard to do that though when the kids would just assume eat cereal for dinner :)


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