Ever since switching from a full-time job to a part-time one, I keep thinking I should have more time. Time to clean, time to cook, time to read my book while nibbling Belgian chocolates. But I still found myself feeling frenzied and harried and every other -ied that I did before working less. While Fred was out of town, I took some time to think about what I could do to change that, even just a little. I asked myself, what are the things that make me the craziest on a day to day basis. At the top of the list was The Dinner Question.
I’m obsessed with food. My Google Reader feed has too many food blogs to count. I grill friends and acquaintances about the latest restaurants they’ve been to and what they had and tell me again about the food! I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to think about eating and cooking. When I can’t sleep, my version of sheep-counting is to imagine I’m kneading dough. Works every time. But I hate — H.A.T.E. — the moment right around 4:30 when I start wondering “What do we have for dinner?” I’ve read countless articles and posts that all say the same thing, the same very thing I’m going to tell you today, and I’ve always thought, Wow. Great idea. I should do that. And then I go clip my nails or feed my cat or pass out in an alley and it never happens.
Until this week. (This is the part where you say dun dun DUN. C’mon, say it. SAY IT.)
Last weekend I put this together:
A binder. With recipes. All organized and shit. With little tabs and subcategories and all sorts of nonsense. On Sunday, with this binder and some new cookbooks, I spent half an hour deciding what to make for dinner every night this week. Yes, even Friday. And then I went through and made a list of all the ingredients required. Yes, all of them. Then I shopped my house. My pantry, my cupboards, my refrigerator and freezer, and crossed off what we already had. What remained of my list I took to the store.
We followed the menu every night. I had all of the ingredients I needed. We tried new recipes and ooh’ed and ahh’ed. We proclaimed winners and losers. And I realized that removing a single question — What’s for dinner? — had eliminated such a tremendous amount of BLERGH from my week. Not only that, but buying only what we needed for the planned meals, plus a few extra staples, reduced my grocery bill for the week by $100, easy.
I’m not suggesting everyone make a recipe binder. I have zero short-term memory so I need something like this. But I AM suggesting that if thinking about what to make for dinner drives you batshit insane, take 30 minutes this Sunday to figure out what to feed yourself and any other persons residing in your house. And then stick to it. The crazy will thank you.