sparklingsapphire's Profile

Display Name: sparklingsapphire
Member Since: 11/24/09

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I'm a serious meal-planner, for dinners anyway. I do a month at a time - I find it easier to make sure we get a good variety that way.

What I do is plan a meal for 5 nights a week. (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) We either have leftovers or fend for ourselves on Thursday nights. I leave Sunday open. If we go out on Friday or Saturday for example, we'll move that planned meal to Sunday. If we end up needing dinner on a Sunday when we have nothing planned, we'll usually throw something together from the pantry/freezer, or make a quick run to the store to pick something up to make that night.

If something spontaneous comes up on a weeknight, we don't make a huge deal of it. If we don't have a lot of fresh ingredients that will go to waste for that night's dinner already, we'll just skip that meal. If we do have meat defrosted and/or vegetables we can't use up on another day, we'll skip a less "wasteful" meal in the next few days so we can move that meal to a different night.

For me, meal planning took some trial and error before I got a good system going.The key for me I think was to leave some open spaces in each week, which makes it easier to accommodate those unexpected things that come up.

My advice would be to make sure you leave some open nights in your schedule to allow for some flexibility. If 5-6 meals seems too daunting, maybe just start with 3-4 and make sure you have a well stocked pantry and freezer so you can easily come up with something on the fly those unplanned nights.

Cure My Cooking Problem! I Need Room for Last-Minute Spontaneity in My Meal-Planning The Cooking Cure Spring 2014
3/17/14 03:36 PM

Upon rereading my comment, I realized it sounds like I think eating leftovers every day for lunch was a problem, which I definitely don't. Having leftovers in the fridge every day to take for lunch was how I finally convinced my fiance to stop buying lunch and start bringing it!

Before I started cooked for more than just myself, I used to eat big creative salads or sandwiches/wraps (sometimes incorporating dinner leftovers) for lunch pretty frequently. Since I now cook a full dinner almost every weeknight (way more than I used to), I've just been in a rut with tossing whatever leftovers we have straight into a container for lunch the next day. It's not so much that I'm bored with the specific dishes that I have leftovers of, but more that I've been missing some of my former lunches.

I guess I should make some goals to prep stuff on the weekends so it doesn't feel like so much work to pack a salad for lunch on a weeknight after cooking dinner, and get more creative with rearranging the leftovers!

Cure My Cooking Problem! I'm Really Tired of Eating Leftovers for Lunch. The Cooking Cure Spring 2014
3/11/14 04:00 PM

Lately, my lunches are almost always leftovers from dinner a night or two before. There was one day last week when we had no leftovers, so I bought a salad and a cup of soup instead of packing myself something similar at home. While it's certainly convenient, I'm getting pretty bored with my leftovers every single day routine.

Day 6: Make a List of Everything You Ate for Lunch Last Week The Cooking Cure Spring 2014
3/10/14 12:13 PM

I'd add "caramelize" to the list of words to look out for. So many recipes say to "cook onions until deep brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes." I can't figure out why recipes so frequently say it will only take 10-20 minutes! I've never successfully caramelized onions in less than 45 minutes, and it's often closer to an hour.

5 Tips for Estimating How Long It Will Really Take to Make a Recipe
2/27/14 08:46 AM

A bowl of roasted tomato and eggplant soup, slice of toast with mashed avocado, and one of summer's last peaches.

The soup recipe is from Serious Eats:

What Are You Eating for Lunch Today?
9/19/13 02:32 PM

I live alone and run my dishwasher about once a week. I use it only for mugs plates, bowls, silverware, and tupperware. Cooking utensils, measuring cups/spoons, pots, and pans all get handwashed. I mainly just use it because it's there-I don't think I'd miss it terribly if I didn't have one. The only time I really feel like it's a huge help is if I've had a group of people over for dinner.

Living Alone with a Dishwasher Cooking for One
5/2/12 10:30 AM

Make a "cabbage roll" casserole. Basically the ingredients for cabbage rolls but simpler-

Mix and bake in a casserole dish: browned ground beef/chicken/turkey, cooked rice, tomato sauce, whatever seasonings you like, and lots of shredded cabbage. Can be easily modified (sub different grains for rice, add extra veggies, top with cheese, etc.)

What Can I Do With Lots (and Lots!) of Shredded Cabbage? Good Questions | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn
5/12/10 01:40 PM