Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Empty Nesting and Nearly a Week of Vegetarian #dinner365

Last week was really weird. Kevin went away to Kamloops, so John and I had the experience of being empty nesters for nearly a week. Without the guy in the house who usually eats everything in sight, it was beyond strange to suddenly go from having someone to cook for, to having someone who eats mostly just chicken and salad.

For those of you who used to read Notes From the Cookie Jar, my husband doesn't really like food. He only eats because he has to, and he often eats the same thing every day. If I let him, he'd live on chicken and salad. For some reason, we ended up having all the vegetarian things last week-likely because I was being strategic about cleaning out the fridge.

I try to be sneaky that way.  Here! Have pizza! It's awesome! It makes leftovers! It also allows me to use up all the stuff floating around in the fridge, which is awesome! Our veggie based week was actually really good. While John still would choose a peanut butter sandwich for dinner some days, I managed to whip up a few really great dishes, that honestly I often ate by myself.

Is this how it's going to be when Kevin leaves home? Me sadly trying to convince John to try something, anything, and then halving recipes because I don't want to be eating them forever? This could be interesting. Without a kid to worry about soy issues with, I also brought home a bag of the forbidden (soybean oil laden) Oreo cookies and ate the ENTIRE THING.

Lesson learned: keep the cookies that you can't stay away from out of the house. Want links to recipes so you can have your own week of nearly vegetarian food? You'll love these dishes, I promise. They were all amazing.

carrot coconut soup broccoli cauliflower cheese

Carrot coconut soup and Jamie Oliver's cauliflower broccoli cheese

 Lentil Chicken SaladRoasted Tomato Pizza

Chicken Lentil Salad (huh. Not vegetarian. Oops.)    Vegetarian Pizza

BBQ beans The whole pan

BBQ baked beans with smashed sweet potatoes         Veggie Enchiladas

I've actually learned a few things while trying to keep our grocery bill low and reduce waste even more as we're transitioning to me cooking much smaller portions, away from enough to feed my small teenage army. First, as much as I scoffed at getting a Target in Chilliwack, Target does a great job providing a lot of inexpensive basics. Beans, rice, chicken stock, canned tomatoes and pasta are often really inexpensive and when I've found them at prices far lower than the grocery store, I've quickly snapped them up. When you have them tucked into your shelves it's easier to figure out what to make because it's all there, waiting.

Secondly, halving recipes is a must. The BBQ baked beans was something we ended up eating for days on end, and out of desperation I finally froze it because I didn't want it anymore and nobody else would eat it. Don't get me wrong, it's SO good. But after the third day I needed a change. It freezes really well, too.

Another thing I discovered, and this really isn't news to anyone, but I used the freezer more than ever. Those enchiladas? A half batch because I cooked half, froze the other half of the filling and we had them this week. Pizza dough? I made one for pizza, and there's another ball tucked in the freezer for the weekend. There's leftover soup I'm going to be eating for lunches this week.

The only thing I don't have a handle on yet is fruit and veggies. I end up with way too much laying about in the fridge, often rotting before I can get to it. Even though John eats a lot of salad, one has been sitting in the fridge for days and he hasn't touched it. What's with that?

Sometimes the quest to find a great recipe, or great idea, really is generated by having too much of something you don't want to waste so you come up with a way to use it. I have a feeling that's going to be the case this week.

How do you handle transitions in your kitchen?

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