A Year in Meals

After Christmas 2016, without a lot of consideration beforehand, I bought myself a magnetic meal planning calendar. I’d done meal planning for a few years at least now, but this was a more visual means of organization — and besides, it was pretty.

I’ve kept most of the pages from this year, and in reviewing them, drawn some helpful conclusions: 2017 was a year of more meat. Lots of meals brought by sweet friends. Heavy reliance on the slow cooker. So often, nearly every week, so many changed plans, but still, in the end, I think the exercise was a good practice.

Here were some greatest hits that featured again and again:

  • Ciabatta
  • Pesto chicken pasta in the slow cooker, which I could just about manage in my season of constant blah, and eat on for days. Cheese, salt and garlic are always welcome in my book.
  • Chili because it’s easy and delicious and you can have it over noodles or baked potatoes or French fries. My mother in law’s recipe makes 11 servings and if I freeze it in chunks, we can eat it once a week for nearly a month. (I don’t have the recipe right at hand, but trust: it’s about as basic beans-tomato-ground beef as it comes, and it is delightful.)

  • Brownies are my go-to potluck item when I don’t have much energy. I almost always have the ingredients on hand and it’s so easy Scout can do a fair bit of the work. In a year in which I often didn’t feel well, they appeared often in my meal plans.
  • Salmon. It’s good for you while pregnant. Maybe. I hadn’t tried it until recently, because I’m a recovering picky eater, but it turns out that there are several simple and inexpensive ways I like it, and it gives us more options for meatless Fridays.

In 2016, I collected and formalized most of my favorite recipes in a cookbook; in 2017, I  began to look forward to the ceremony of sitting down with cookbook, meal plan schedule, planner, shopping list and computer to envision the next week.

It was a good exercise to review our meals of 2017, and in so doing, review our 2017. Despite so much morning sickness, which leaves me with a bad taste for the year, the meal plans reminded me of how many folks we did manage to have over, how many evenings we spent out, even if I was sleepy or queasy or didn’t fit my pants

And meanwhile, against the changing landscape of adult meals, the monotony of peanut butter—chicken tenders—yogurt marched on in the background. It was a year of picky eating for some of our company, but I look forward to reflecting on coming years, as my band of choose eaters branch out.

Did you have any cooking resolutions for 2017? What do you expect 2018 to look like in your kitchen?

3 thoughts on “A Year in Meals

  1. This past summer/fall both my daughter and i were able to stop being dairy-free (I’d cut out all dairy for a year in order to breastfeed her with her allergy– which thankfully she outgrew at 15 mo!!)…being able to have cheese again opened up a whole new world with meals, haha! I’d like to come up with a ‘master meal’ list of maybe 30 favorites we like to use when I’m doing my weekly meal planning.

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    • I’d like to do something similar but I’m such a pantry cook, trying to use up bits and bobs. So I have, say, a favorite frittata template or a couple beef stew recipes I riff on, but things can vary quite a bit! So often I’m just searching for a recipe that uses what I’ve already got!

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    • Same happened with us halfway through the year! Dairy gives you so many more options. Our 18mo still can’t have dairy other than a tiny bit of cheese, but we’ve managed to make meals work (like having things where cheese is optional). We totally have been doing the same meals over and over for the most part, but I really should write them down on a master list. Great idea!

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