Shared meal times are one of the best parts about living together and being married for me. Sure, we met for dinner or cooked together before we got married, but I think I’ve experienced partnership differently through planning, preparing, and eating food together in our home. The first trip I took to the grocery store after we got married felt memorable for me, taking into account both of our preferences, compromises, and values.
Shared food around the table is sacred time.
I’m a big fan of planning our meals each week. Meal planning helps me focus in grocery shopping, avoid unnecessary purchases (goat cheese? OKAY), and cook efficiently. For example, if I know we’re going to eat something with beans the next day, it’s more likely that I’ll remember to soak the dry beans the night before, as opposed to coming home at 6pm and only having dry beans on hand for dinner that night. Since J. and I both have some evening commitments, our weekly meal planning sesh is a good reminder of the nights we’ll be out or won’t be eating at home (the Gmail shared calendar can only do so much). We also try to share the cooking if possible, and plan so that the first person home that night can start up dinner.
Since I don’t want to forget these recipes, here’s a roundup of some of my/our favorites from these first six months of marriage.
Smitten Kitchen: Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas
My sister-in-law suggests to up the ante on the crisped chickpeas by adding smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is a bit spendy, but it truly does up the ante. Also: roast the chickpeas for at least 15-20 minutes longer than Deb suggests for a better crunch.
Minimalist Baker: Crispy Peanut Tofu Cauliflower Rice Stir-fry
This is a keeper. We subbed the cauliflower rice for buckwheat noods since we had those on hand, but I’d like to try it with cauliflower rice when I’m feeling fancy.
My New Roots: Big Comfy Sweet Potato
This recipe represents my ideal kind of recipe: easy but not too easy, pretty simple ingredients of mostly things that we have on hand, budget-friendly, whole ingredients, filling enough for J., and tasty. I recall modifying the sauce quite a bit to fit what we had in the pantry, and it was still delicious. We made this back in the winter, since it has the word “comfy” in it.
NY Times: Chicken with Shallots
My brother sent me this recipe with the note: “The LeCreuset was born for this.” Destiny. Super tasty, relatively un-fussy ingredients, one-pot. Note: you can skip the tarragon, and you probably won’t miss it.
Smitten Kitchen: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano
Deb does it again! And I could eat this every single day. #FETA.
Vegetarian Times: Puttanesca Sauce with Fried Capers over Linguine
I made this when J. was out one night for a work event, since it requires the perfect Venn-Diagram-style overlap of “foods J. hates” and “foods E. loves”: namely, capers, Kalamata olives, and excessive garlic. I froze a serving of the sauce for next time J. has an evening event…
Cooking Light: Sweet Sesame Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli
Another noodle keeper. Black sesame seeds = worth it.
Cooking Light: Tilapia with Pineapple Salsa, Tomato-Avocado Salad, and Black Beans and Rice
We enjoyed cooking this together, but it does involve a few more elements than we usually prepare on a weeknight. Still, it’s a favorite.
Other favorites, without recipes:
1. Easy tikka masala with chickpeas or chicken, over rice. It’s easy because we buy the jarred version of tikka masala for $2 at Target. Thanks, Archer Farms.
2. Fish tacos. We usually have tortillas and taco fillings (like cheese, tomatoes, salsa) on hand, and we usually keep a big bag of white fish in the freezer.
3. J.’s PR-inspired chicken, rice, and beans. His specialty.
4. In winter, the classic: soup and grilled cheese. I usually freeze a couple individual servings of any soup we make, so that it’s easy to grab for a quick lunch or solo dinner.
5. Pasta + jarred tomato sauce + side salad. Yeah, I know how much sugar is in jarred sauce, and my best roommate B. used to make huge batches homemade, but…jarred for now.