I design meals with a simple formula: Protein + Vegetable + Starch. It is this shortcut that ensures my meals are balanced. I am cooking for one and I have several recipes that I rotate through over the course of a month. I go to the grocery store on the weekend and buy the building blocks for these recipes: meats, frozen vegetables, and side dishes. Sunday is my main cooking day for lunch (something easy to transport in a lunchbox) and dinner (something more sophisticated than a single pot dish). This provides me with enough leftovers for the work week and I pack my lunch for work. It does save me time but I end up eating the same foods over and over.
My pantry inventory has plenty of staple goods like sugar, flour, oils, and spices. I have a few unneeded left-over items from Thanksgiving like pumpkin, evaporated milk, and cranberry sauce but they will keep until next holiday. I also have some oddball items that I use in one-off meals like liquid smoke for pulled pork B-B-Q. It is well-stocked to the point of maybe being overstocked. It’s only me eating the food so I might consider purchasing smaller packages. I would like to branch out with different grains, makes side-dishes from scratch instead of a box, and more fresh salads.
My pantry serves as a long-term storage source. Fresh foods don’t get used fast enough and dry goods aren’t convenient. I end up resorting to canned or boxed goods which means I have less control over salt, sugar, and fat content in my dishes. Also, it is designed as a walk-in but only has shelves in the back with a dim light source. I don’t know what spices I have and I have difficulty locating them. I need to take the time to unload my pantry, take inventory, and better organize it.
I prepared the following two dishes:
- Ohio Farmhouse Sausage Chili from the Joy of Cooking cookbook
What worked well: I didn’t have the exact ingredients but was able to substitute and modify the recipe. Chili is forgiving. Assembly of the chili went flawlessly and I used the onion cutting technique we learned in class, cutting it along the poles instead of the equator like I used to do. I used spicy chili beans instead of regular kidney beans- yum!
What I might change: I missed the final buzzer so it overcooked but it did not burn. I need to pay more attention to that next time. I also think I would prefer it with the pork sausage. I substituted hamburger which is fine but lacks some flavor.
- Greek Pork Chops from the Taste of Home recipe website
What worked well: I didn’t have the exact ingredients but was able to substitute and modify the recipe. I was able to use olive oil, fresh lemon, and prepared mustard which added a punch to the flavor that a simple spice rub cannot. I served the chops with wild rice and sugar snap peas, lightly salted.
What I might change: I was only able to marinate the chops for 4 hours instead of the recommended 8 hours. It was fabulous in that short time and I would like to know what it’s like marinated longer. I might try a different side dish like Greek orzo with feta or eggplant with almonds to keep with the Greek themed dishes.
-Christine M. Mounts