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WIS, WWA | My cooking reset

First, a big ol’ thank you to all of you for your kind and gracious comments on the post where I shared how I’ve been struggling in the cooking arena since my anatomy and physiology class started.

A page of arm-bone anatomy coloring.

A lot of you accurately saw what was going on. You are right; I am comparing my current situation to a time when my kids were all little and I had less going on outside the house. It’s not super logical for me to expect myself to have quite as much time to spend in the kitchen now as I did then.

Also, you all are right about how working hard right now is not a waste of time. Anatomy and Physiology builds on itself, and I am pretty sure that a lot of my future nursing training will build on what I learn now. So, it’s better to do a thorough job.

A textbook page of pelvic bone anatomy.

My friend Mia (a fellow nursing student!) told me about a classmate who barely studied and thus, barely passed A&P. Then down the road, she really hit a wall in a class that required A&P knowledge and she had to take that class twice.

So, I remind myself: classes are expensive. (Way more expensive than takeout, actually.) So, if I skip cooking here and there in order to pass a class, that’s still smart.

In light of all that, here’s how I’m planning to navigate the rest of this semester (7 more weeks).

Ok, and also next semester because I will be in Anatomy and Physiology 2.

(School year 2022-2023 should be much easier because I only will need microbiology and developmental psychology.)

My game plan

1. I bought a crockpot

I have only ever had a Wal-mart cheapie crockpot, and it is SUPER ANNOYING to use because you can’t remove the crock part for washing.

Also, it’s really small, which means that sometimes I can’t fit a whole recipe’s worth of food into it.

So, I read the Cook’s Country reviews and ordered the Kitchen-Aid slow-cooker they recommended.

2. I got an America’s Test Kitchen slow cooker cookbook from the library

I have been a little unimpressed with the crockpot fare I’ve often seen, but I am hopeful that America’s Test Kitchen will have better offerings for me.

I also browsed through the Budget Bytes list of slow-cooker recipes, and I think maybe I will give this teriyaki chicken one a try.

3. I’m going to designate one night as a no-cooking night

On Wednesdays, we have a lot going on schedule-wise, so I am waving the white flag when it comes to cooking that night. Between being busy and all of us not being home at dinnertime, we are going to do a fend-for-yourself or takeout night on Wednesdays.

Hopefully having that reprieve will help me feel more motivated on the other nights.

4. Mr. FG is going to cook once a week

He’s going to take over on Sunday nights, and since we do our date night on Saturdays, this means I don’t have to cook at all on the weekend.

5. I am going to guiltlessly press the easy button

French toast and OJ can be a dinner. 🙂

What I Spent

  • $6 at BJ’s
  • $67 at Lidl
  • $25 at Whole Foods
  • $26 on Wednesday takeout
  • $2 at Panera

So, $126 altogether.

October Spending

Week 1: $110

Week 2: $148.50

Week 3: $111

Week 4: $126

What We Ate

Saturday

Mr. FG and I did our date night at Panda Express (where we used my survey coupon!) It was a $12 meal for the two of us, which is pretty darn affordable.

Two bowls from Panda Express.

Sunday

Mr. FG had not started his Sunday cooking pattern yet, so we used a Panera gift card to get dinner for the four of us. I only had to spend $2 out of pocket for our meal.

Monday

I grilled some chicken sausages, which we ate on buns. Chips plus a fruit salad on the side.

Grilled sausages and hot dogs on a plate next to a grill.

Tuesday

I tried a Pioneer Woman recipe for sesame noodles and I also rummaged through the freezer and found some marked-down steaks and some chicken, which I sauteed for us to add on top of the noodles.

Recipe verdict: the flavor was good, but the sauce was so thin, it just drained right into the bottom of the bowl. I think some thickening would improve it immensely.

Wednesday

My no-cook night! Sonia chose to eat some leftover sesame noodles and chicken, I picked up fast food for Zoe, I got a bowl from Noodles and Company while Zoe was at youth group, and Mr. FG got a sandwich from Arby’s.

A receipt from Noodles and Company.

People don’t usually mispronounce my name, but they DO often spell it wrong!

Thursday

I spent a lot of the day looking at cadaver slides* to learn muscles, so I made French toast and called it a night.

(*It is a very good thing that I am not easily grossed out. This is probably true of most students pursuing a medical degree!)

Friday

Zoe might want me to take her and a friend thrift store shopping, so I’m not sure what to plan for dinner. If we go thrifting, then it will be something quick!

What did you have for dinner this week?

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Sharie Mendrey

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

I'm a long time reader but have never posted before. I found your blog when I was looking for a roasted carrot recipe and loved the recipe and your style so much that I've stayed for years. Yours is the only blog that I follow and I so appreciate your positive outlook and encouragement. I always thought of posts as taking up time from the blogger, but your comments about feeling like you have a community because of the posts have encouraged me to post. I love sharing recipes and I have a few slow cooker recipes that my family loves, so this seemed like the perfect time to finally speak up. Thanks to the other readers who shared their favorite slow cooker recipes...I'm looking forward to trying them. I find that although my recipes share the common denominator of shredded meat, they all have relatively different flavors so that they don't end up tasting like the same meal.

Here are my favorite super easy slow cooker recipes:

Beef Stroganoff: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VgWlTlidp3yDzkmj4YQSV5Jkctjq_ipPIvr_8cvrwnQ/edit?usp=sharing

Chili Chicken Tacos: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vF-UAY9gcQTbdLnUA5A_9O3TKSrhYza4gzOgPLcrbFY/edit?usp=sharing

Buffalo Chicken: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z4rHj5JvkYK3a6bGGrzQXJGCzMmTTcOrbUNAG-s-k1o/edit?usp=sharing

All of these are great to freeze if you have extra.

And here is one of my favorite super easy oven recipes I thought I'd throw in because I can never believe how easy and yet delicious it is.

Chicken and Tomatoes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IpqKSuPXJhWyyQSUTWZxR9zhBahpIPEZ/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=110395936765208009063&rtpof=true&sd=true

I'll look forward to seeing what recipes you try and post as you experiment with your new slow cooker. I have the ATK recommended Kitchen Aid and I love it.

Kristen

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Oh yes, I love to read comments! So, I'm very glad you de-lurked.

Thank you for the recipe ideas; I honestly think that shredded meat is one of the best uses for a slow-cooker, so I will check these out.

Danielle Zecher

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Thank you for talking about having trouble cooking sometimes. Sometimes it fees like everyone else always has it together and always cooks and I'm the only one spending way too much on delivery and takeout. It's nice to know it's not just me. :-) Thank you for talking about guiltlessly pressing the easy button! I have a tendency to overly complicate meals, and that's something I'm going to work on going forward.

We just got back from vacation, where we planned on eating quite a few meals out. Now that we're home, I'm working on a cooking reset of my own. Plus, I go back to the office next week after mostly working from home since March of 2020. I'm looking forward to going back, but I know it will be an adjustment that could make cooking even less likely to happen. So I'm definitely going to be following along with your cooking reset!

Good luck with your crock pot! I absolutely love crock pot cooking. I have five in various sizes and use them all throughout the year. One thing about ATK crock pot recipes is that the time seems to be WAY TOO LONG. I've had good luck shaving 30 minutes to an hour off of the lowest time they recommend ( if it says 4 - 5 hours, cook it for 3 - 3.5, etc.) Every time I've cooked it for the entire recommended time, the food has turned into mush. Good Cheap Eats is another site that has a lot of good crock pot recipes. They're filed under "slow cooker" rather than "crock pot" in the recipe index.

Isa

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Good for you! Priorities change, and it`s perfectly fine. I can`t live without my crock-pot, and I`m all about easy recipes. A no-cooking night? Yes please!! I cook because I have a family to feed, that's it (I don`t enjoy it one bit).

Ahhhh, anatomy classes!! I remember those days!! It`s HARD, so give yourself a break about the rest :)

Geneva

Monday 25th of October 2021

Welcome to the wonderful world of slow cookers! I actually own 5 - they are all different sizes and since I live in MN it's not seen as shocking (ha). Finding solidly good slow cooker recipes can be daunting but they do exist. America's Test Kitchen has some great tips and tricks on how to make the slow cooker work better so that your food doesn't turn into a monoflavored mess. I hope to see some great recipes that you found for the slow cooker in future posts - a slow cooker may become your best friend when you become a nurse!

Michelle H

Sunday 24th of October 2021

What a timely read - I was just looking at our schedule for the week and planned 2 crockpot dinners for days I won't have time to cook! Chuck roast and potatoes were loss leaders at my local grocery this week, so we're having: - Pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions - Veg beef soup Both of them use a lot of overlapping ingredients as well, so a double win!

While you're compiling crockpot recipes, a super easy one is pork loin and yellow potatoes. Take a 5 pound bag of yellow potatoes, wash them and let completely dry. (I usually wash the night before and put out on a towel so they can dry completely). Put them in the crockpot and fit in to make the top of them fairly even. Use foil and fold up the edges to make a tray for the pork loin. Put the foil trash on top of the potatoes, put a marinated pork loin on the tray, being sure the edges are all pointed up so the juices won't drain onto the potatoes. Put the lid on and bake on low all day.

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