I'm halfway through my first week of making every meal at home for 30 days straight. If you didn't read last week's post, take a quick look at my rules and reasons why I'm doing this cooking challenge.
Thus far, I’ve had no huge mess-ups or hungry days of no food to eat, but I have had a few missteps early on.
I returned from visiting family over the weekend, and as soon as I arrived in Columbus, I bought $101 worth of groceries. I’m now well-stocked in produce, canned goods and pantry items so I know I have a variety of things to make.
In preparation of this cooking challenge, I looked at my recipe archive on TinyMessyKitchen.com (Shameless self-promotion) to see what dinners were quick and delicious to make. Since starting my blog in 2015, it's amazing to see how many recipes I had completely forgotten about that were absolutely delicious. With a large grocery list and many meal ideas in hand, I was well-equipped to buy everything I needed at the grocery.
Day 1 (Monday): I did not plan my first day of meals very well. Although I had food for breakfast and lunch that I brought to work, I underestimated what kind of food I'd need to bring to keep me satisfied throughout the day. I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, string cheese, honey-roasted peanuts, vegetable puffs (similar to potato chips, but made of snap peas) and a granola bar to snack on throughout the day.
I typically work nine-10 hours per day, so I have to eat frequently throughout the day to avoid hunger. I realized I needed more protein-rich things, like Greek yogurt or a snack with peanut butter, to stay satisfied during my shift. Even though I had an old-school peanut butter and jelly sandwich as my entree for lunch, it wasn't enough and I was hungry before I left the office.
On top of being hungry before making dinner, I forgot one major ingredient for my dinner. I didn't discover it, however, until after I went home for the day. I thought I had bought spinach the day before, but I had not. That is a problem when your dinner is going to be spinach-tomato tortellini. So I had to hop back in the car, run to the grocery store and grab spinach to make my meal. All in all, I was not in a great mood until after I finally ate something.
Day 2: I did a lot better with my meal planning for Tuesday, mostly because I had the spinach-tomato tortellini as my lunch for the next day (and it was a generous portion, so I stayed full). Dinner plans changed later in the day, so I made a PB&J for dinner with pretzels. I typically never buy loaves of bread, so although my dinner wasn't the most sophisticated, I reveled in the chance to go back to a childhood favorite.
Day 3: I had the day off, so I wanted to make a more complicated breakfast than when I usually grab something on my way out the door. Unfortunately, this led to my second fail of the week. I made chocolate-coffee-banana smoothies that were decent. It’s not my favorite recipe, but it isn’t terrible either.
I also tried making a vegetarian egg bake with hash browns, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, eggs and cheese. The end result was delicious, but it took so much longer to bake than I had anticipated. That was mostly my fault, though. The recipe called for baking the dish in a 7x10-inch pan. Instead, I used a 9x9, thinking it wouldn't be that big a change. Oh, how wrong I was! The dish should have been baked in 35 minutes; it took over an hour to finally set. The end result was still delicious, but I definitely was getting hungrier and hungrier while waiting.
This weekend poses an obstacle for my cooking challenge: I won't be at my apartment this weekend, so I will have to plan ahead and bring food with me while I’m away Saturday. Homemade Easter brunch and dinner will cover me for Sunday, but I will need to make sure I have the supplies to make some meals Saturday.
You’ll find more updates on my Facebook page or at www.TinyMessyKitchen.com.
Join me in cooking from home this month. If you have any meal suggestions or tips, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to those who have reached out to me this week with your tips and suggestions.