This has been a good week, at least in terms of cooking. I guess it all started (oddly enough) with our determination to keep within a bit tighter of a food budget (or at least to stop spending money on food like drunken sailors, as I have a bad habit of calling Chris after school and asking him to pick up food on his way home whenever I suddenly feel like cooking something). Then, the sunny weather we had inspired me a bit. Finally, Chris was going through that busy last week before final exams, and I thought I'd make his week a little easier by making sure that he didn't have to worry about cooking at all. (He does that for me whenever I'm busy and stressed out, and so I thought I'd return the favour.)
Here was my challenge: to last until today without getting more groceries, and therefore cook using only what we already had in the house. Also, I wanted to cook using as many fresh ingredients as possible, and make as many special meals as possible (or at least meals that I don't make every week) without wasting too many ingredients or making things really unhealthy. All without taking time away from my work schedule. (And I was trying to work a few meatless meals into the week. We pretty nearly managed it on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, but then we decided on Friday that Monday's leftover roast beef needed to be eaten before it went bad.)
And so, here's what I ended up making:
Sunday: Tuscan beans and roasted beets. (Didn't turn out so well, because I misread the recipe and cooked it in so much water that none of the seasonings really added any flavour to the beans. However, this was the cheapest meal I made all week, and the leftover beans were great in the chili I made later this week.)
Monday: oven-roasted beef, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and the best gravy I've made in my entire life. (A bit of balsamic vinegar made it fantastic.)
Tuesday: buttermilk-marinated oven-fried chicken (from The Joy of Cooking) with fresh corn muffins and salad.
Wednesday: stuffed and baked plum tomatoes (I added toasted hazelnuts to the stuffing) and rice pilaf.
Thursday: chili using the pinto beans I'd made for Sunday's supper. (Less original, and more Second-Cheapest Meal of the Week, especially because it used the leftover beans from the Cheapest Meal of the Week, and we ate the chili with buns that Chris got for free at work.)
Friday: Baba ghanoush with toast points, raw carrots and broccoli. (Okay, and we also finished up the leftover roast beef and gravy. Meatless Friday fail.)
And then we get to today's supper: broccoli and cheddar souffle! Remind me to make souffle more often. I always forget about how much we like it.
I'm really excited about tomorrow's supper, because I will be attempting pulled pork sandwiches for the first time; I'll be trying out this recipe from Simply Recipes, which looks amazing. We're having Ariann and Derek over to share it with us. I think I'm going to make the sauce tonight and marinate the pork overnight. Dear goodness, am I ever excited about this.
So, by Sunday I'll have used four new recipes, and have managed to come in under budget with our food. I've now test-driven a whole bunch of recipes that I'll be using again soon (souffle for the parents, pulled pork for Chris's brother's visit, and baba ghanoush for Chris's next staff potluck, because he always tries to take a vegetarian dish). Even better, Chris loved every meal so much this week that he's been ever more cheerful than usual.
(All this, and I managed to send off some written work to my supervisor this week, and I've already heard back from him with positive feedback. This has been a good week.)