Alternate Title: I Bought a F***ing Vegan Cookbook
During my last project, I admitted to myself that I didn’t like cooking. Occasionally, I’d start a streak, inspired by a memorable restaurant meal or a good new recipe. Those streaks were fleeting. So planning meals I’d then have to cook was a dreaded task.
For many of us, planning meals and cooking for our families isn’t going to make our hearts sing. But it’s necessary, because homemade meals tend to be healthier and less expensive than restaurant meals. So even though my efforts haven’t been a smashing success, I keep trying because it’s important.
The ups and downs of life have thrown off most of my routines in recent years, and meal planning is usually the first to get jettisoned. But boredom’s been a significant hurdle too. I moved into my first apartment when I was 24- which was almost 24 years ago. Despite learning new recipes and incorporating new foods, it hit me recently that I’ve been making many of the same foods for half my life.
So I’m trying to shake things up. I’ll revisit meal planning, but first I want to experiment. Ideally, I’ll find enough new foods and ideas to keep me motivated and make Bob and Emma happy.
This strategy has been partially in motion for a few months, but I also had a helpful light-bulb moment recently which led to some ideas I’d never thought of.
- I’m a picky eater, with a particular aversion to things that are green, with the exception of green M&Ms. But green food is healthy, in vegetable form anyway. So when a local farm I follow on Instagram shared information about their CSA (community-supported agriculture) membership, we decided to sign up. Every Saturday, we go to the farm to pick up a crate of vegetables and fruit.
We get to pick some items ourselves, depending on what’s available. This is my favorite part. Since we’re still spending so much time at home, it’s been great to do something different and fun every week. We’ve picked peas, beans, all types of berries, cherries, apples, and peaches. I’ve found a couple new things to like- salad turnips, honeynut squash- and I’m certain I don’t like kale.
- We bought bean plants, a few types of tomato plants, and some herbs from another farm in our town. I finally planted a little herb garden after years of thinking about it. Bob’s tried to grow tomatoes every summer, with mediocre results. When we got the new plants, he realized that the front yard was a better place for the pots because the sun is better. The beans didn’t do very well, but everything else took off. Even though it’s a small thing, being able to cook and eat things we’ve grown has been really satisfying. I really love going out to cut some basil or thyme when I need it.
- I bought a new cookbook. We were in Barnes & Noble last week when a cookbook caught my eye. Even though I wasn’t looking for one, I picked it up because there was foul language on the cover, which I’m embarrassed to admit delights me. The recipes were healthy, and I imagined myself making several of them. So I bought it. In the car, I flipped through it again and read a recipe for flautas. I noted the lack of sour cream, which was fine because I don’t like it. Then I noticed there was no cheese either. Or meat. I read a few more recipes and noticed a pattern. “I bought a f***king vegan cookbook,” I said to Bob. He started laughing. But I’m no less interested. I have no plans to go vegan or vegetarian, but I’m going to make some of those meals. It never occurred to me before that I could try these kinds of dishes, and like them, without having to revamp my whole life. In the past, I’ve attempted to embrace different approaches to cooking and eating, usually ones that called for all-or-nothing adoption, like Atkins and Whole30. Some people have the motivation and discipline to succeed with plans like these. I’m not one of them, and I only just realized that I can still look to those plans for meal ideas.
So, I don’t know what I’m making tomorrow night, but I’ll dig into our produce stash and defrost some chicken and figure something out.