Plan, Bike, Cook, Love – The Idea of Planning a Successful Week

This is the blog I meant to write last week.

My husband and I fall into the DINK category (Dual Income No Kids), but I consider us DIDDs (Dual Income Dos Dogs). Society tends to assume DINKS roll in dough, work out in expensive gyms regularly, collect fine wines in fancy cellars, and travel the world on a whim. As DIDDs, Dave and I live modestly, relying on the outdoors for fitness, and travel from dog park to state park on a more routine basis.

Planning the meals for the week and shopping accordingly helps us stay on budget and enjoy our DIDD life. It takes practice and I consider us masters at this point. Sunday night we usually make the more laborious dinner that can provide us great leftovers for lunch or necessary components for future meals. We plan easy quick meals for the nights we know are going to be exhausting or stressful. It falls into place very nicely and we usually find plenty of wiggle room should our moods or tastes change mid-week. Once we get the list down I ride my bike to the grocery store just over a mile from the house, and load up on the fresh goods. The exercise and fresh air in scenic Madison rejuvenates my mind. Imagine the bike ride rather than battling for parking spots and over-loading the car full of unnecessary purchases. Planning week by week ensures a clean fresh refrigerator of food with little to no mystery items, too. I absolutely cannot bring home too much food on my bike.

Why do I bring this up? DINKs are also known for eating out all the time, and blowing cash at least twice a day on food out. Office workers are known for the microwavable packaged lunch that has been sitting in freezers for who knows how long? I can tell you from experience, good food feeds good moods. Eat fresh good food, and you will be happier, both at home and at work. Cooperating in the kitchen strengthens my relationship with my husband, every time. So here is a recent example to help you get in on this great plan on a cold weather week:

Sunday: Stew a chicken. Place a full chicken with potatoes and root veggies, garlic, lemon, rosemary, and $3 white wine in a french oven and bake at 300 for 3 hours or so. The meat will fall off the bones and your house will smell amazing. More tricks to this later. After dinner pick off the meat and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Save the carcass and juice in another container for the ‘fridge. Heck make a chicken sandwich for lunch.

Monday: Make meatballs, a simple tomato sauce, and pile on top of pasta of your choice. It’s easy, yummy, and relatively quick. It’s also very different from Sunday’s meal so you won’t get sick of chicken. Leftover meatballs make a great lunch hoagie.

Tuesday: Make chicken quesadillas with leftover chicken meat. Easy. Yummy. We also like making fajitas with the leftovers using fresh lime, cumin, onion, and fresh peppers. Need inspiration? Check out my friend Mauricio! While you are making dinner, toss the chicken carcass and juices from Sunday’s meal in a stock pot. Fill with water and boil down. Add water again and boil down again. Strain and let cool. This should take hours and hours and make a gorgeous chicken broth. Celebrate if when it cools it’s like chicken gelatin, all jiggly and translucent versus thin and transparent. That’s the good stuff. Smell so good you can’t stand it? Pack a cup of broth for lunch tomorrow to have with a salad or sandwich.

Wednesday: Add your goodies to your homemade broth. I suggest you saute celery, onion, garlic, and carrots before you add the broth to make delicious chicken soup. Then mix up the dumpling recipe in Joy of Cooking. I have a secret here I’ll share with you. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to the dumpling dough and roll up the dumplings with chopped fresh parsley. Trust me. Add the spoonfuls of dough to the boiling broth, cover with lid, and set timer for 10 minutes. Make it a big deal to unveil the dumplings when the timer goes off. It’s like kitchen magic and you’ve now concocted something that will heal all heart and soul fractures for the evening. This will also make everyone jealous at work when you heat up a bowl of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Thursday: Make a pizza. Yeah that’s right, don’t order it for delivery. Don’t bring it home from some fast-food pizza joint. Build your own pizza and have fun with it. It doesn’t take that long and it tastes so much better than what you buy. If you had a rough day at work, get pre-made dough (or decide to make the dough on Sunday and refrigerate for Thursday) and work that dough. You will find lots of therapy in kneading, and stretching, and rolling out that dough. Allow yourself to feel that connection and release all your frustrations. Then breathe love into the dough. Transfer nothing but goodness into your food. Anyone who ever read Like Water For Chocolate will understand what I mean. Extra slices for lunch? You bet your bottom dollar!

Friday: You deserve your night out. Any great places you can walk or ride bike to from your house? Who needs road rage on your night out? Cheers!

Tell me if you want me to share more meal plans for the future. Next week we’ll steer clear of poultry before the Thanksgiving turkey overload. I love to cook and share. It brings me great joy to hear stories of friends who learned from me and now take the time to cook and share too.

Have a warm and wonderful day,

Laura

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