Cooking for Four

Yesterday, I mentioned that we have a new housemate and a new dinnermate who is a future housemate. It is a weird transition to go from feeding two adults to four. When it was just Dexter and I, I would often “wing it” at dinner time. I’d search through the freezer and pantry, and we’d usually come away with something edible. Although the last time we did this our dinner was a chips and salsa appetizer with pancakes for an entree. Nope. Not joking. The pancakes were whole wheat if that counts for anything.

Now that three hungry men sit around my table at dinner time, the pressure is on. Thankfully, these guys are generous with their compliments and willing to take risks. So far, we’ve had lentil tacos, bean burritos, pasta with vegetarian meatballs, and chili with optional ground beef. These meals were all quick and easy to prepare, which is important now that the meals I cook won’t stretch across the whole week. I’ve realized that I will not be able to make everything from scratch, and I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m still not sure how to plan for leftovers, especially since not everyone eats dinner at home every night, so I’m planning five meals at a time and keeping copious amounts of canned food on hand for dinner emergencies. Here’s the plan for the my next five meals:

  • Leftover chili, homemade apple-pear sauce from aging fresh fruit, peas
  • Polenta & vegetable bake, salad, bread
  • Taco pizza with beans or beef, salad, canned fruit
  • Spinach-artichoke grilled sandwiches, salad, green beans
  • Huevos rancheros, whole-wheat raisin biscuits, canned fruit

What are your best tips and recipes for cooking for a group on a regular basis?

Read more adventures at Try New Adventures Thursday at Alicia’s Homemaking.

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11 thoughts on “Cooking for Four

  1. dude, will you post the recipe for the spinach-artichoke sandwiches? i was just reading about artichokes yesterday and thought “i need to cook with those!”
    here is a recipe that rachel meyer shared with me, we are actually having it tonight and i thought of you!
    Herbed Lentils and Rice Recipe #265545

    From: “The Bean Cookbook” by Norma S. Upson. 1¾ hours | 5 min prep
    SERVES 4

    * 2 2/3 cups vegetable broth
    * 3/4 cup lentils
    * 3/4 cup onion
    * 1/2 cup brown rice
    * 1/4 cup dry white wine
    * 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
    * 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    * 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    * 1/8-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    use 1-2 cloves garlic, minced)
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    * 4 ounces swiss cheese
    1. Combine all ingredients except the cheese strips and turn into an
    ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
    2. Cover and bake at 350F for about 1 1/2 hours until lentils and
    rice are cooked, stirring twice.
    3. Place cheese strips on top of the lentil-rice mixture.
    4. Bake uncovered 2-3 minutes until cheese melts.

    Changes I made/make:

    Sometimes use 2 c. water to 1/2 t. salt in place of broth if I’m lazy or have none on hand.
    Cannot stress how much the white wine adds to the recipe. It’s yummy without it, but
    over-the-top delicious with it in there.
    use a bit more thyme! 🙂
    use a bit less pepper
    use whatever cheese I have. We’ve most often had it with
    mozzarella and it does taste a great deal like pizza minus tomato.
    if you double the recipe, I would add 30 minutes to the time.
    I often throw in some carrots. Have not tried other veggies.

  2. You should totally pick Shirley’s brain on this one.

    My tried and true “fill ’em up” meals are:

    Bean and Cheese tacos, spanish rice and salad
    Poppyseed chicken, potatoes and veggie {can cook it ahead of time}
    Enchiladas
    Spaghetti {an oldie but a goodie}

    If I think of some more {and I’m sure I have them} I’ll email you.

    Also, sometimes WP doesn’t let me set up links either. Switch your format to HTML and see if that works.

  3. That is quite a switch, and quick! I guess it’s more gradual with kids…it’s sometime after 10 months or so that they are actually eating your food and then it’s such small portions at first!

    I’ve *mostly* transitioned from cooking for just two…there are 3 of us at dinner now and I try to have enough for an extra neighbor or two.

    Soups are always fabulous in cold weather (and rice is a great filler for those)…Cheddar Cheese Soup with Veggies is my latest favorite.

    Also, chicken spaghetti and chipotle chicken with peppers do the job nicely.

  4. Can’t go wrong with a spaghetti pie! You line your pie tin with about an inch to an inch of a half of noodles that you’ve mixed two beaten eggs into. Then you cover it with a quarter inch of sauce followed by a layer of mozz cheese. Bake at 350 til done (cheese melted and browning about 30 min.). Cut up and eat!

  5. I just remembered…when I made the polenta dish, I reduced the spinach AND I added a can of black beans to make the protein complete.

  6. Pingback: Meal Plan Monday 4.18.11 « Mrs. Dexter

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