Culinary Collaborations: How they work
A little explanation behind my Culinary Collaborations, here forward known as CC. From what I hear from friends and in my experience, planning is the hardest part of the healthy eating process. When trying to meal plan, produce goes to waste because meals aren’t coordinated by ingredients.
Meal planning won’t happen if it doesn’t seem effective or if it takes too long. If the menu is determined early in the week, it is easier to stick to the plan and avoid the unhealthy carryout options. Bonus: thinking through the menu will save money at the grocery store in the long run. Fewer trips to the store and a detailed list will help avoid unnecessary purchases.
All of these reasons are the point of CCs. I do the hard work by coordinating recipes that use similar ingredients (without tasting the same), write the grocery lists, and think about early prep to make your life easier.
Each CC will have:
A title that describes the week or primary ingredients.
The list of 3-4 meals with links to the recipes.
A grocery list for all the meals, split up by area (produce, meat, etc.)
A list of pantry item required for the meals. Pantry items are spices, tools, or oils I think everyone should just have in their house at all times. These will be used in many of the recipes on the site so they will be referenced frequently. (Examples: table salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil, etc.)
Prep options provide a few things that can be done in advance to speed up the recipe when you make it later that week.
My suggestion of what order to make the recipes that week. Certain weeks it may not matter but others have a preferred order because of prep or if certain ingredients go bad faster than others. I explain why the order is suggested so you can make your own decision.
I suggest opening the links for all recipes and skimming them before reading the CC. My notes in the CC will make more sense when you have a general idea of what the recipes require. Best practice is always reading the entire recipe before making it so you aren’t surprised at any point.
I hope these CC are helpful and if you have a theme request or suggestion on how to improve, please let me know through the comments or email. A new CC will be released the first Friday of the month.
Keys to meal planning success:
Decide what you will make early in the week. For those who have Monday - Friday job, you should decide during the weekend so you have extra time to shop and do some prep before the work week begins. I try to do this Sunday morning because the grocery stores don’t seem as busy. Some people prefer to spread it out over the weekend, making a decision on Friday, shop on Saturday, and prep Sunday. If you have a non-traditional job, make your shop/prep day on whatever day is your weekend.
Write the meals, with the days they will occur, in a visible place. This allows everyone in the house to know what is for dinner. I find thinking about dinner earlier in the day actually makes me crave the food so I’m excited to make it. Depending on who is in your house and their skills, you could also assign a ‘Chef’ to each meal which indicates who will take the lead making the meal.
Spend the time to do the prep early on. This usually only takes an hour but can save so much time during the week!
Make cooking a fun and relaxing experience rather than a stressful one. For our house, it means music, a drink, and chatting about our day. It is time to catch up and unwind from the work day. If you have young kids, maybe it means the ‘chef’ of the day gets the kitchen while the other parent handles the kids. Or make it a family affair where it is a lesson on how to cook, dangers in the kitchen, and discussing where our food comes from.