Tuesday, June 1, 2010

That chicken's not gonna cook itself

If I wasn't married, and with a kid, I'd be perfectly content to eat like I did in college: Totino's pizza rolls, Pasta-Roni parmesan noodles (I could eat a whole box in one sitting), "grilled cheese" and sodium-laden sliced turkey sandwiches prepared in the Snackster.  Sometimes, I got gourmet - let me tell you about my version of chicken parm: a frozen breaded Tyson chicken breast, "cooked" in the microwave, served atop a bed of Ramen noodles, but without the seasoning packet - I used marinara sauce instead.  Sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese and voila!

Unfortunately for me, Mungee's Pa has a more sophisticated palate.  When he was growing up, his dad had a restaurant.  His mom made macrobiotic meals.  He challenged his neighbors to stuffed grape leaf cook-offs.  Sushi to him was like hamburgers to me.  I didn't know I liked Mexican food until after I graduated from college.  (Taco Bell is apparently not Mexican food).

These days, I don't cook all that often, but when I do, I have a few go-to dishes: chili, meatloaf, lasagne, beef & broccoli, or pulled pork in the crockpot.  Don't ask me to coordinate sides - I start them too early, or usually wait entirely too long and then don't want to get them started because I'm ready to eat the main meal.  Most of the time though, I just stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open for way too long, trying to wish a meal into existence. 

I keep whining suggesting to Mungee's Pa that we start meal planning, but I get overwhelmed at the thought of it and don't know where to begin.  Do you plan your meals?  Grocery shop specifically for your menu?  Does your menu coordinate with what's on sale?  How did you get into the rhythm of cooking regularly for your family?  I appreciate any and all suggestions as to how to get started!
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