Obviously, it’s been a minute. The last few months have been filled with polarizing events leading to certain stressors, and those stressors have led to much consumption of things like cookies, cakes, pasta, and other things that are easy to reach for when I’m not cooking, and of which I should not be eating a lot. There was a fabulous trip to my new fave city, Asheville, NC. There was also an emergency oral surgery on Sig and then a horrible, pussy, bloody allergic reaction to a bug bite (poor pup and damn the Florida bugs). There was an incredibly relaxing Christmas, a fabulous Beef Wellington (one of the best), and a New Year’s celebrated with family and friends (including an amazing home-smoked pork loin). A significant move also took place – I was offered a position at another school, an opportunity I would’ve been a fool to pass up. So the ever-so-unpleasant experience of emptying a classroom (and then deep-cleaning someone else’s former classroom) was overshadowed by the fantastic new job: teaching first grade!
Not only am I teaching a new grade at a new school, but I also get to share this experience with my mom who is also on the first grade team. While all of this has definitely kept me busy with much that comes with transitions, it has also been a lot of fun.
But despite (or maybe because of) all of this, I’ve been left with a feeling I’ve never had before. It’s odd for me – strange and uncomfortable – and if it weren’t for Rob’s challenge to me, I think I’d be lost in my own kitchen.
On more than on occasion, I’ve heard people make comments, likening only to dread, regarding making dinner. In fact, one of my closest friends describes the pit she gets in her stomach while driving home from work knowing only ingredients – frightening and alone – are awaiting her with doom. If only Mary Poppins could come and snap her magical fingers and a Michelin Star quality meal would fall from the ceiling, piping hot, plated and presented beautifully.
While Mary Poppins is my all-time favorite hero, alas I know this is impossible.
But what a horrible, shoulder-slumping, overshadowing dark cloud feeling to have, right?
And I got it.
Like a sniffy nose from a 5-year old, once it came on, it lingered.
I love to cook. Creating meals is my release, my recharge. How am I literally feeling like it’s a burden to make a meal?!
On top of everything, it is Rob’s deployment season – never ideal. Luckily, this time in lieu of a deployment, Rob has an extended training stateside. Oddly enough (and what seems as totally backwards), Rob’s leaving has renewed my kitchen love.
A couple weeks ago, as Rob was making his preparations, he asked me to write up some recipes for him as his on-base housing would have a little kitchenette. When I say little kitchenette, I’m being kind. He has two burners, a fry pan, a fridge, and a microwave. But in all fairness (and considering that this past summer I cooked a dinner on a rock in the middle of a hiking trail – no joke), that’s really all you need to make good, satisfying, home-cooked meals. That’s just what Rob asked me to do.
So with the challenges of:
- limited time (cooking after all-day trainings)
- limited resources (only a small co-op near his location)
- limited supplies (only a skillet, and no oven)
- limited money (that speaks for itself)
I created a 4 to 5-day menu of easy-to-cook, easy-to-eat, easy-on-the-wallet recipes all consisting of 1 pan, with leftovers for lunch the next day. And of course, all the recipes were reminiscent of the meals Rob would have at home.
Each recipe is broken down into ingredients, prep, cooking, and serving. While every ingredient is standard and accessible, there are a few things that are considered pantry items that can be used way more than once. Mustard, butter, olive oil, s&p, and the like.
Thus far, Rob has had good, healthy meals, and I’ve gotten positive reviews! So I decided to include the meal plans for you to enjoy, as well.
This little project made me feel refreshed in my inspiration, motivation, and desire to cook. That horrible place of cooking apathy was dreadful, and if this little 5-day plan could help others shake the dust off their spatulas, then I’ll call it a win!
If you try any of these recipes, let me know how it goes!