Our Month of Eating In: Week Three

Planning every single meal has been difficult.  I thought that it would give us the opportunity to try new recipes we’d always wanted to make in spite of our busy schedules.  As it turns out, “new and exciting” recipes that are unrelated to other meals you might cook during the week end up requiring extra ingredients at an extra cost.

I tried to compensate for the extras this past week by buying a common ingredient and planning my meals around it.  Lesson:  Never make your common ingredient chicken.

We ate chicken every night.  Not that we have anything against chicken, but if you’re going to make a habit out of eating in, then you have to give yourself something to look forward to when dinner time rolls around.  If chicken is the only thing on your weekly menu (even if you dress it up all fancy), then you will get bored.  Very, very bored.

The upside of Chicken Week is that I can now successfully bake, grill, and crock chicken with little hassle.

I never realized how much discipline it would take to plan, cook, and eat every meal in your own home.  It’s so easy to say, I’m tired tonight; let’s go out.  We’ve said it aloud plenty of times in the past few weeks.  Even when we’re running low on ingredients, we’ve lost any good ideas for what to cook, and we’re exhausted, one of us still has to walk over to the grocery store and pick up what we need.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s always cheaper for me to buy  a package of meat that will last us through two or three meals than a Dominos pizza that will be gone in half an hour.

What’s difficult is that with all the work BJ and I do outside of our home, we feel entitled to eating out sometimes (uh, most times).  Perhaps the biggest lesson is that committing to eat in for an entire month requires you to change how you relax.  Cooking has to become relaxing. And so, easier meals get cooked on nights when you’re not feeling motivated to be fancy. This is common sense, but for someone who used to think all cooking was equally difficult, it’s a relief.

Last night I cooked a no-chicken dinner: Baked Potato Pizza.  In fact, it was my first shot at pizza in a long while.  I’ve experimented with homemade dough, but the Wal-Mart powder mix always turns out better.  For this recipe, I defaulted to the premade crust at HEB.  And it was fabulous.

Disclaimer: Doesn’t that picture look tasty?  This is not our pizza.  We ate ours so quickly that we didn’t have time to pull out the camera.  Regardless, that picture is wonderful.  Click it to see the photographer’s Flickr.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 4 tbs melted butter
  • Dash of garlic salt
  • A few slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 4 baked potatoes, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Crust — my vote is always for whatever is easiest
  • Salt, pepper, dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine sour cream and ranch in bowl.  Spread mixture over top of the crust.  Slice baked potatoes into thin medallions (leave the skin if you like).  Combine melted butter and garlic salt and toss with sliced potatoes.  Arrange potato slices on crust.  Sprinkle the whole shebang with cheese, bacon crumbles, parsley flakes, and a little salt/pepper.  Cook on 400 for about 15 minutes.

So long, Chicken Week.

{Click on images for photo credit}



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