My biggest fault as a person who values good food is my complete failure to meal plan, and everything that encompasses: the planning, the shopping, the preparation. Of course, I have excuses for all of that. I’m a busy working mom, I loathe the grocery store (a trip made even more complicated with a one-year-old) and my knife skills are laughable at best and dangerous at worst.
Somehow, though, I managed to make it through the first year of my son’s life without buying a single jar of baby food. Sure, I bought hummus, applesauce and yogurt (all organic!), but it was important to me that he ate quality food, so even when I was exhausted and my sink was piled high with dishes, I made the time to shop and then roast, chop and puree vegetables every week.
Now that it’s been a year, and he’s eating more grown-up table foods, it’s time for me to apply that same thought and care to my own meals. For the most part, when we eat home-cooked dinners, my husband is the one who does the work. And oftentimes, he’ll grill meat. It’s great, but we could stand to eat less takeout, and I if I can find the time to cook one or two times a week, I could help us eat more healthfully, save money and maybe even sit down to the table as a family of three once in a great while.
Now that I have a copy of Food52’s latest (beautiful!) cookbook, “A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead,” that goal actually seems attainable.
Food52 is a site dedicated to home cooks, and its founders, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, are also busy working moms who get it. In the introduction, they wrote:
“As parents and as partners running a growing business, we have very little time to cook during the week. If we want to eat well, we need to plan our shopping and cooking for the weekends, and to come up with ways to do it so that family dinners don’t become monotonous.”
While I’m sure my husband would take monotonous dinners over no dinners cooked by me, that’s certainly a good way to get me on board. And it just keeps getting better.
The first part of the book is dedicated to practical tips for shopping, and tips for using the weekend to get most of the prep done, so weeknight dinners are a breeze. Even better? The recipes are broken down into “chapters” organized by meal plans. Many of the recipes use some of the same staples, while others call for leftovers used earlier in the week.
Plus, the recipes look amazing.
No, I haven’t gotten around to cooking them just yet, but by the end of the month, I’m going to be a woman with a plan — a meal plan — and a well-stocked fridge.