When I was on maternity leave something happened to me. Other than having a baby. I found this new love of cooking. Growing up no one taught me how to cook. As a older teen and in my early 20s I could mess up hamburger helper. I told myself I just didn't have the "cooking gene" in me and moved on. When I had Anthony I started to try my hand in the kitchen. We had many burnt, over cooked, under cooked, and just plain not good meals. I slowly improved, learning little tricks here and there, but I still never really cared for it. I just did it because my family needed to eat. I had about 15 meals that I just rotated through, I very, very rarely tried anything new. But something changed when I got pregnant with Noey, all of a sudden I was looking up new recipes and wanting to try new things. I don't think we repeated a meal once while I was on leave. I fell in love with cooking! (Im sure its no coincidence that I've had a hell of a time dropping the baby weight this time around haha)
While home I spent hours in the kitchen, but every day struggled to try to figure out what to make. I always wanted to make a million things but usually didn't have a few ingredients and didn't want to drag a newborn and a toddler to the store for a handful of things. I eventually came up with the system of making a weekly menu. On Sundays I would dedicate an hour to looking up recipes, writing out a menu, then writing a shopping list of necessary ingredients. On Monday we'd make the trip to the grocery store and buy our necessities for the weeks worth of meals. I loved this, I loved knowing what I was making, I loved having all the ingredients there already, I just loved the organization and structure.
When I went back to work I lost this. I kinda momentarily lost my head a little when I went back to work, the transition was not an easy one for me. I've gradually gotten my footing back, and gotten back into my routine. Hey, it only took like 7 months. One thing I didn't get right back into was my menu making. Every night would be a mad scramble once I got home to figure out what to make and with either a lack of ideas, lack of ingredients or lack of time we often (FAR too often) ended up just eating out. Our waistlines and wallets suffered.
Last month I reintroduced the weekly menu into my life and I haven't looked back. I didn't realize how much I missed cooking. I'm loving having some structure in the kitchen again and eating real meals again. I love trying new recipes and playing around with some old ones. It feels good to know a thing or two in the kitchen finally so I feel comfortable enough to tweak some details here and there.
I found a whiteboard at Target that just displays the week so it works out perfectly for our dinner menu. The bottom has a little strip of cork board which works out perfect for any recipes i'll for the week. Best $8 i've ever spent. Okay probably not ever, but its an organizational, menu making dream come true.