It’s been a while since I posted a food post.  There’s no recipe here (but if you are looking at the dinner calendar and can’t imagine going forward without sampling Squid Ball Noodle, here you go), but more an explanation of what we eat, how it gets to the table and all the behind the scenes work that goes on from day to day.

I’ve had a dinner calendar for over a year now.  First I recorded what we had eaten each night after the fact.  Then Tim began asking each day what he should avoid having for lunch, so I started writing out 2-3 nights of a plan on the calendar.  It’s progressed to forward planning 5 nights’ worth of meals, writing grocery shopping lists, market shopping lists, and procuring hard-to-find ingredients well in advance.

My lists are written on small scraps of paper, 1/16th of a full sheet of printer paper, with miniscule print and two columns.  On the left, market veg going down from the top and market fruit coming up from the bottom.  On the right, market other (eggs, meat, fish, coconut milk) going down and grocery store coming up.  I tuck this into my wallet next to my phone in the spot with the pen, and fit in my shopping whenever I can, usually Monday and Thursday or Friday for the grocery store, Wednesday and Sunday for the veg market, with random stops at the baking shop, sundries shop, deli, wholesaler, fruit stand, convenience store, organic shop and bakery.  In Penang, I spend a lot of time shopping for food, and probably make 5-8 stops for food shopping a week.  Yikes!

Meal selection comes from a few sources.  Last year, I cooked my way through Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals book, doing 1-2 recipes a week and filling in with leftovers and basic meals or things I saw on food blogs that looked interesting.  When I finished the 30 min meals book, I got the 15 Minute Meals one and am working through the 100 recipes in there.  In the last couple months, I’ve also been trying new things from the Moosewood Cookbook to do more vegetarian cooking.  Combine that with a subscription to America’s Test Kitchen and still all the food blogs and we never eat the same thing twice.  This way is not for everyone, I know, but it works for us and I feel like I am cultivating my foodie interests while feeding my family home-cooked food.

I do most of my meal prep either in the morning or between 3-4pm with my little chef at my side.  Miles loves fixing meals and has a true love of food, so this is a really fun thing to do together.  I rarely do a meal from start to finish before meal time like I used to, and it is a very welcome change to not rush to the kitchen when Tim gets home.  Dinner prep is rarely more than 10 minutes of reheating, quick stir frying, pasta boiling and garnishing.   Pair that with a glass of wine by myself in the kitchen and it’s a favorite time of day.

This week Miles started planning for breakfast too, as you can see by the multi-colored drawings above the dinners.  We had shake and toast (Monday), shake and omelets (tuesday), fruit yogurt & granola (Wednesday), oatmeal (Thursday), and breakfast tacos (Friday).

We don’t always cook at home, weekends are often times for eating out and sometimes our fabulous helper chef Suzi will cook an Indian feast.  But it’s been great to have a plan and be ready to eat at home, then choose to go out if we want to.