Thursday, May 8, 2014

The recipe backlog

In addition to a modest cookbook collection, I've spent years buying cooking magazines and tearing out recipes that appeal to me. I enjoy cooking and experimenting with ingredients but our actual meal planning tends to get stuck in a rut. As part of my being a stay at home mum experience, I've decided to shake that up and clear some of those torn out pages at the same time.

Every week, I'm trying two new recipes from those pages, one savoury and one sweet. Recipes that are either not that good, or more trouble than they are worth, are discarded into the recycling; successful recipes also end up in the recycling but get written up in my recipe book first. The only pages I'm keeping are the 'to tweak' recipes - ones that were ok but I suspect can be made better and into regulars on our meal line-up.

So far we've had a very successful one-pot mustard chicken, a tweakable chorizo, chicken and potato gratin (my husband wants more chorizo, I want a bit less thyme, so we'll try those changes and see), possibly more trouble than they are worth chocolate cherry strudel (filo pastry!) and jaffa friands (6 egg whites!), some rather uninspiring lamb, pumpkin & couscous salad, and one or two others that were clearly so 'meh' that I've already forgotten the details.

Decluttering the house by two magazine pages a week might not sound like a lot, but I'm enjoying the chance to actually try these recipes that I've saved over the years and start to whittle away at the recipe backlog. I've also vowed not to buy any more cooking magazines for at least 6 months.

In parallel to this, I'm working on ways to make our meal planning a better experience. At the moment I'm considering 'meal packages' - a set of three meals that have some ingredients in common to lessen waste - and 'prompt cards' - writing index cards with recipes by major ingredient (so chicken recipes, bean recipes, etc) so we can say 'well, we have chicken in the freezer; this week we should do one of the chicken recipes' and just grab the card and have a look.

I'm too afraid to start looking online for meal planning techniques because I just know there will be a flood of ideas and I'll get overwhelmed!