When Will and I first got married, the thought of cooking dinner multiple times during the week was so foreign and daunting to me that just scrolling through Pinterest looking for easy throw together meals brought me close to a meltdown. I felt like I didn’t need to just ‘cook’ for us, but like, ‘Cook’ for us, where every meal is something new and different and instagrammable. Not only that, but I felt like I had to enjoy it. And I didn’t.
People would talk to me about cooking like it was this beautiful, other worldly experience …and I felt weirdly excluded. The cooking I did in the shoebox kitchen of our 500 square foot apartment was far from beautiful. And if spending an hour chopping vegetables and dirtying every inch of our kitchen in the pursuit of dinner is other worldly, I think I’ll stay here in this world thank you very much.
Subsequently, we ate a lot of brinner our first year marriage, because if there is anything I have mastered, it’s pancakes (plus Will makes the best bacon).
Fast forward about six months, and something clicked (or snapped, depending on how you look at it). I had just finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s book ‘For the Love,’ where she outlined how she taught herself to love cooking dinner for her family by turning the meal prep time into a ritual: she put on her favorite music, lit a candle, poured herself a glass of wine and just leaned in to any mess or mistakes that may occur in the process.
I decided that nothing instagram worthy needed to happen in my kitchen. I told myself I didn’t have to enjoy cooking, but I could if I wanted to. I lit candles. I played music (or put on an episode of Friends). I drank tea. And before I knew it, I didn’t mind weeknight meal prep! I started to look forward to this quiet time when I got home each day, immersing myself in the chopping and the measuring that leads to the talking and the nourishing. And that can be enough.
As advertised, My Favorite, On Repeat, No Fail Weeknight Recipes (as of late):
- Spaghetti Squash with Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese
I modified this recipe (don’t judge, I know it’s from Buzzfeed) by adding mushrooms, garlic, and caramelized red onion to the pan after cooking the bacon. Once everything is added to the spaghetti squash, I mix in garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and goat cheese. It is ridiculously good, enough to make you forget you are eating a big bowl of cooked vegetables.
- Paleo Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry by Danielle Walker (Against All Grain)
I LOVE this cook book, and I love Danielle Walker- I simplify this recipe by buying a bag of stir fry mix and pre-chopped mushrooms. Also, coconut aminos for the win!! They make everything taste wonderful.
- Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
I’ve been trying to get more into beans because they are hearty and gluten free and cheap. Unfortunately, they also taste weird and rubbery to me, like an overcooked tire. SO. I’ve been experimenting with chili recipes to see if I can retrain my taste buds. So far so good- I have been mildly obsessed with this recipe the past few months.
- Slow Cooker Beef Roast and Carrots
God bless the crock pot. I recommend buying a really nice cut of meat and making your own seasoning blend.
- Slow Cooker Chicken, Kale and Sweet Potato Stew
This recipe is so dang easy and feeds us for days. I put in 4 chicken breasts, and 4 large sweet potatoes and it’s perfect.
- Paleo Sesame Chicken
I eat super healthy these days, which has kind of ruined my taste buds for some (though not definitely not all) not-so-great for you foods… chinese take out being one of them. Regular sesame chicken tastes so salty and strange to me now – this recipe is beautifully flavorful and easy to make! I’ll be honest- I’m not a fan of quinoa with this dish, I recommend “splurging” for the rice.
- Kale Salad
Not new, but still going strong on this one! It corporates three of my favorite salad items: quinoa, bacon, and balsamic vinegar. This recipe will also (thankfully) feed you for days.
I am so thankful for blogs, Pinterest, and the internet- without which, we would still be eating pancakes for dinner three times a week.
What are your go to weeknight dinners?