Hi! I'm glad you've found my blog. I hope you'll find it interesting, inspiring and perhaps a little bit helpful. I hope I can help you plan to cook when it fits your schedule, rather than being a slave to the dreaded dinner hour and help you save a little time, money and aggravation.
First, about me...I did not learn to cook at my mother's or grandmother's knee. A lot of people who love to cook start that way, but that's not me. I did an awful lot of baking as a kid with my parents' encouragement, but no real cooking. I really didn't learn (or care to learn) to cook until I got engaged to a man who liked to eat. My first attempts at cooking were the standard young wife/grad student failures, usually brought on by the fact that when a recipe said "sauté the onions for 5 minutes", I thought it meant I could go grade tests for 5 minutes!
I really started cooking "Dinner Done Yesterday"-style when my husband's grandparents moved to Indiana to be closer to their daughter, my mother-in-law. They were in poor health, and my mother-in-law and her brother were their full-time caregivers. My husband and I had both just started new jobs, and the only support and respite we were able to provide was making dinner every night for all 7 of us. I finally started adapting recipes to prepare ahead of time as much as possible in order to get dinner on the table at a reasonable time. The night before, I would chop, measure, portion, bag and tag, so that the next evening, all I had to do was combine everything in a pan.
When I had my second son, I made about 3 weeks worth of meals in advance because this time, I knew what to expect. I was surprised after the birth of my first son by how TIRED I was. I mean, I knew I would be tired, but I didn't understand just how tired I would be. I didn't know that even when I had the energy to cook, I didn't have the brain cells to plan ahead and that even when I had a plan and had some energy, my baby would be neediest right before dinnertime. Take out was an easy option for awhile, but recovering from childbirth and taking care of a newborn is an intense physical and mental process, and neither your body nor your brain runs right without good, healthful food which take-out often is not. I needed to start prepping and cooking ahead again. Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I don't have the office clock restricting when I can cook, but I still need to prep a little here and a little there to get dinner on the table before the natives get restless so I'm still doing Dinner Done Yesterday (or This Morning or This Afternoon...whatever it takes!)
While I cook as much from scratch as possible and as healthfully as possible and like to use homegrown produce (when our garden cooperates), there are rafts of fantastic blogs already out there on those topics so this one will focus on planning and cooking ahead, making the most of the ingredients you have on hand, capitalizing on grocery store sales and planning for leftovers. I'll mostly share my recipes and my strategies for prepping ahead and stashing away complete meals, but I also love to be challenged with the question "what can I do with this?"...half a bottle of hoisin sauce, 18 lbs of grapefruit, leftover mac and cheese, you name it and I'll come up with recipes that use up your pesky ingredient.