"You eat well here" is something my brother-in-law has been known to say when visiting. Which is good.
But while pulling out all the culinary stops is easy to do when people come to stay and you clear your diary for them, day to day it is very easy to get into a rut. And all the time my many many cookbooks are sitting there - some almost untouched, some with a few well worn pages but generally unused.
So I got to thinking and came up with an idea. This year I will plan the week's meals in advance on Sunday evening, and to make better use of my embarrassingly unused cookbook library, I will cook from one book each week. Planning will make sure I use up my veg box, and I can head to the shops on Monday morning to make sure I have everything I need ready for the week ahead.
So far it's all going swimmingly well. It is of course just at the end of week one so we shall see but already I've noticed a couple of things. We are eating more interestingly and I'm getting much less stressed about it even though I'm cooking better and more varied food. I think it's because once I've done the planning on Sunday and shopping on Monday I hand over to whichever author is in charge and just follow instructions. No 6pm "what is in the fridge?" moments. Plus it's way more fun because I like to cook and try new things.
Last week I started with Diana Henry and her book Food from Plenty. I picked up a slightly damaged copy for pennies in a book sale at a local library, and this is the first time I've tried any of the recipes. Here's our menu for the week:
Monday: Moroccan fish cakes with cucumber salad, hot sauce and roast potatoes
Tuesday: Nicoise vegetable stew with rouille and fresh bread
Wednesday: Roast chicken, French peas with lettuce and mashed swede and parsnips.
Thursday: Leftover cold chicken with spring couscous.
Friday: Roast squash and red pepper (instead of spinach) lasagne.
Saturday (Tom cooked): Vegetable korma and rice.
Sunday: Leftover lasagne.
I'm hoping to add a post a week, mostly as motivation to myself.