Full disclosure, I will never and can never be a food blogger. I am: Too. Damn. Hungry. To take pictures throughout the cooking process. I do, however, enjoy cooking. If you’ve read any of my other posts that are food related you know that I’m usually cooking/eating late night after J goes to bed. Right now we have the luxury of eating really grown up food and not having to fight a toddler to try it, while also getting time to visit as adults before retiring to the couch and Netflix for the night.
Part of what makes weeknight cooking possible is planning out the week ahead and shopping accordingly. I’ve seen enough Facebook ads for Blue Apron and Hello Fresh to know that there’s a service out there that is willing to take the planning out of it for me, but honestly – the planning and shopping is kind of my ritual. Saturday morning during nap time I cruise through Pinterest to see what’s new on the recipe front or just pull some of the old favs to make sure I don’t forget anything. The art of planning, and what I think makes Blue Apron or Hello Fresh so appealing is that there is less waste.
Along with my planning and shopping ritual, Saturday is also the day things get pitched from the fridge. Leftovers, produce that’s past its prime, etc. That part is actually sad. There are so many with so little, I try not to waste any food. Sometimes that turns weekends into an episode of Chopped, but what’s life without a little adventure or a really strange meal?
All that said, if I’m meal planning and need an ingredient with a short shelf life I try to incorporate that into other meals throughout rest of the week. Recently arugula, ricotta and mozzarella cheese were on the list.
Meal 1: Naan pizzas with grilled chicken, mozzarella, ricotta and arugula.
We had leftover naan in the freezer that was reaching its prime. We toasted it on the grill to get a quick char, then brushed it with olive oil and topped with: mozzarella, dollops of ricotta, thinly sliced grilled chicken and baked until bubbly. Once it was out topped it with a few handfuls of arugula, a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt.
Magnificent. And no photographic proof. I think it was a Monday night and I was starving.
Meal 2: Arugula pesto with angel hair and grilled chicken.
Can you believe how much arugula is in ONE container? By the next day it looked like we’d barely even used any of it. Time to take action. I stuffed my mini chopper with half of what was left, threw in half a head of garlic cloves (peeled of course) a generous helping of parmesan cheese and pulsed it to break it all down. Then came the EVOO – drizzle and blend until it was the right consistency and finished off with sea salt. I added a few spoonfuls of that to some fresh out of the pot angel hair, a splash of pasta water and oh – the leftover chicken from the naan pizzas.
Super green. Peppery. Garlicy. Awesome. Yet again, my appetite got the best of me so no proof.
Meal 3: Three cheese baked penne.
A few days later the ricotta cheese was staring at me from the top shelf of the fridge. No fear, plans were already made. I’d picked up a jar of marana so put that in a saucepan with the ricotta and got it melding together. Once my penne was al dente I mixed the two together and layered them in a dish with parm and my mozzarella. In the oven for 25 minutes and magic.
Creamy. Cheesy. Delish. The proof was in the leftovers I brought to the office, otherwise nothing to be seen here.
Meal 4: This is cheating: salad.
We had my parents over for dinner the Sunday following these delights and as an afterthought I put a quick salad together. I had one and a half romaine hearts left which was making my salad look a little weak for 4 of us – bam there goes the rest of the arugula and voila the salad bowl was full.
It takes a bit of creativity, but keeps things interesting and waste-less if you take the time to plan ahead. Good luck to you mamas in your quest for weeknight meals and if nothing else I hope you can get inspiration from the above.