When I tell people I'm an editor at a food publication, the general response is, "You must love to cook!" And while yes, that's absolutely true, there's one (slightly boring) thing I have to admit: I cook the same recipes for dinner over and over again.
Every week I scour the web for mouthwatering recipes to feature on the Delicious Links column, but my actual cooking life is a lot less tantalizing.
Why I Make the Same Recipes for Dinner Every Week
The whole concept of meal planning appeals to me immensely — I love making lists, planning ahead, and keeping things organized — but coming up with different recipes each week always overwhelmed me. Then I learned about the meal template approach. The idea is to assign each day of the week to a certain food (Pizza Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, etc.) in order to make planning easier. I took this concept and ran with it — except that instead of getting creative within those constructs, I make the exact same recipes each week.
That's not to say I don't experiment with different recipes, but often I find the process of going to the store, spending money on (sometimes) unfamiliar ingredients, and taking time to try out the new recipe leads to a lot of pressure and expectation: Will this be worth it? Will it be as delicious as my other go-to recipes? I decided that's not a risk I'm willing to take on a weeknight, when my focus is more about getting a wholesome, delicious dinner on the table quickly.
When you know you're going to be making the same recipes for dinner each week, you start to memorize the ingredients you'll need. I don't even have to make a list anymore (although sometimes I do to keep myself in line and avoid buying all the things) — and it completely takes the headache out of grocery shopping.
The weekends are an entirely different story. Typically one night a weekend my husband and I will go out to eat, and the other night is reserved for trying out a new recipe, often from a cookbook, my Delicious Links column, or our recipe page. And if I get lucky, I'll discover a new dish to add to my weekly rotation.
The 5 Recipes I Make Each Week for Dinner
It's worth noting that the recipes I make are often influenced by the season and what's available at my local grocery store or farmers market. In the winter, I'll make some sort of hearty, cheesy casserole every week, while in the summer, a caprese salad — with juicy, fresh tomatoes — is always in rotation. The five recipes I've been making each weeknight lately are as follows:
- Bell peppers stuffed with a quinoa-lentil-spinach mixture and baked with mozzarella on top.
- Maifun rice noodles with avocado-basil sauce and crispy tofu cubes.
- Black bean tacos with cabbage-lime slaw and guacamole, topped with dollops of plain Greek yogurt.
- Kimchi fried rice with sautéed kale and soft-boiled eggs.
- Spaghetti with The Kitchn's homemade marinara, spruced up with sautéed greens, canned wild-caught American tuna (this is my go-to brand), and fresh Parmesan.
The recipes are varied enough that we typically don't get sick of them, but if we do start to dread a particular dish, I'll usually swap in one of the new recipes from my weekend experimentations.
I think a big part of why this approach works right now is because it's just the two of us — no children, no roommates. I do all the cooking (by choice), and my husband is willing to eat whatever I put in front of him.
What's your approach to meal planning? Would you eat the same recipes for dinner every week?
(Image credits: Leela Cyd)