12.03.2012

What's For Dinner?

So, I thought I had it figured all out when I wrote, last month, about my leaning toward giving up meat. I wouldn't call myself a vegetarian, but I would fast from meat, and maybe even work toward fasting from dairy, too. It was a great plan. Room for grace, room to accept hospitality in the form of pot roast, room for bacon on my birthday - yet overall a more healthful and ethical diet.

(The day after I wrote that, Juliette, our girl who has never much cared for meat all that much, started saying things like, "Do we have any ham? Ham is my favorite!" and "I LOVE meatballs.")

And then I tried to go grocery shopping and actually got weepy at Trader Joe's because I realized I had absolutely no idea what to feed us. My old recipes don't work so well anymore, and I don't have new ones yet.

Well, okay. I have a couple vegetarian cookbooks. And no one can really claim that they don't have any ideas in the age of Pinterest. Still: I don't have a repertoire, and most weeknights we are eating one of, say, twenty dishes that are in heavy rotation.

On the spot, I decided to buy a couple meatless meat products, and just make what I'd normally make, but with substitutions. Two out of three of these worked really well. We both loved the tofu/veggie burgers (in the cold section, not the freezer) and Ben actually had to ask if I'd used meat in my grandpa's chili recipe, the "beefless ground beef" tasted so good. On the other hand... the sausageless sausage soup was a bust. I found out too late from a FB friend that fake sausage does not take well to the long simmer.

So, we've been plugging along. But when my friend Jenni sent a link to a meal-planning website called The Fresh 20, I was intrigued. I hemmed and hawed for a few days, but ultimately decided that a three-month membership was worth the $10.50 sale price. Each Friday, they email you a menu with five dinner recipes and a shopping list. There are twenty fresh and seasonal items on the list, and those, along with panty essentials, are all you need. They even tell you what you can prepare ahead of time to make weeknight cooking that much quicker.

I really love the idea of someone else doing all the work of teaching me how to feed a family a predominantly vegetarian diet. I marched back to Trader Joe's on Saturday with my list in hand and nary a tear in my eye.

my arm would hurt for a week if i had to chop these
We had our first Fresh 20 meal tonight: braised butternut sage vegetables with a brown and quinoa rice pilaf. Aside from peeling dicing a butternut squash - which is insanely hard work that taught me I really need to add some weightlifting to my exercise regimen - it was a very easy dinner to make. And it was really good. Who knows what the rest of the week will bring, but I'm quite hopeful this is going to be a great way to build a new repertoire.

They also have a traditional (meat) plan, and a gluten-free plan. I can only imagine how helpful that gluten-free plan would be for someone who is newly following a gluten-free diet.

[No, I'm not getting paid to say this. I'm just excited, and sometimes my excitement makes me sound like I'm selling something.]





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