Some of you may remember that our beloved CSA (community supported agriculture) closed up shop a few months ago. To say I was simply sad is an understatement (full post here). David and I had spent three years picking up our box of delicious produce each Friday, and I had spent three years building a weekly menu based on the Thursday email listing what we could expect that week. I like to think I'm a flexible, go-with-the-flow person, but this change illuminated that I'm more of a creature of habit than I thought.
This change also coincided with a particularly busy time in life, so I gave myself extra space to establish a new routine. I thought about and considered joining another CSA, but nothing I found offered a high-value, year-round option, but I will probably consider joining one on a seasonal basis once the weather warms up. I researched Hungry Harvest, a wonderful organization that rescues discarded produce in grocery stores, and I even considered completely giving up my weekly menu planning. But none of these options hit the mark, at least for now.
I want menu planning to be somewhat easy, fun, and creative. I don't ever want cooking to turn into something I hate, although I don't expect to love it all the time. I also want a new strategy to align with my menu planning philosophy: "don't over think it" (I was definitely overthinking it at this point). Then a lightbulb went off! Cookbooks.
You know, the hardcover books with beautiful pictures, step-by-step instructions, and pages filled with tips, tricks, and advice. The books I remember my mom and grandmother pulling off their shelves during holidays and family dinners. My bookshelves are not yet crammed with Joy of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or The Barefoot Contessa, but I'm more of a 1-pot recipe girl anyways. Plus, I received the new Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, Ready or Not, over the holidays, and have been obsessed with it ever since.
So you're probably wondering, how's this new strategy going? In short, great, but it does take some getting used to. I still spend time on Thursday or Friday preparing a plan for the week ahead, followed by creating the corresponding grocery list. I try to pick one or two cookbook recipes each week, supplemented by recipe staples and easy favorites. Searching through cookbooks and the endless supply of online recipe blogs, however, sucks me into a rabbit hole. In the past, I only spent 30-45 minutes researching recipe options, but now I'm finding this time easily doubles. Don't worry though, I'm working on it.
I also need to figure out how to balance my excitement over wanting to try new cookbooks with the realities of time, energy, and money. There are so many cookbooks I want to try (and, thanks to the library, have access to), but I also don't have unlimited free time to dive headfirst into another project. Right now my focus is on my newest cookbook crush (see above), but when is it time to move on to something new? Yes, a silly problem, but a real one considering it causes excitement anxiety.
Excitement anxiety - feeling overwhelmed with all of the amazing choices in front of you.
Even with a few kinks to still figure out, the good news is there is a new system in place in my kitchen and my Weekly Menu Series will finally be making its return. I've already been having a great time testing my skills with new dishes and experimenting with new ingredients. So here is what I need from you: recommendations. What cookbook should I dive into next?
Walking enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, sports lover (watching, not playing), and future world traveler.
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