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  • Writer's pictureLarissa Reinhart

#365Dinners in 2020

I'm participating in an (almost) daily Instagram challenge showing what I make for dinner each night. This has nothing to do with my books or writing, and only to do with the fact that I cook about five days a week (Mr. R cooks one-to-two nights on the weekends) on a budget for my family.

I think we're a pretty normal family who likes to eat, but I suppose that's subjective.

So I'm going to try to Instagram my dinners daily. I won't succeed, but I will try.

Why do this? Because there are lots of other folks who cook daily on a budget and might want dinner ideas. I'm always looking for new ideas because I get bored cooking the same stuff all the time. (However, cooking the same stuff does make one's life easier.) But I have a family who loves to eat home-cooked meals and they like variety.

Here's the thing:

  • I'm not a food blogger and have no interest in being one. I mostly cook from cookbooks and what I google online. I might list where I got the recipe, but I'm not trying to teach anyone how to cook.

  • I'm not a foodie. I don't cook anything complicated because I ain't got time for that. I leave that to Mr. R whose hobby is cooking. Cooking for me is all about feeding a family – a family who likes to eat home-cooked meals. I can't get away with "cereal for dinner" or even leftovers. They're not that fond of cereal. They eat leftovers for lunch and breakfast.

  • I repeat many meals. I'm not going to apologize for that (see my first point).

  • We are a family of four--2 teen girls, 2 adults. I plan meals and shop on Sundays. Our budget is about $120 a week for groceries. That's for household items, breakfast, snacks, lunch, and about 4-5 dinners. When we go over-budget it's usually because I've gone to our local Asian supermarket and bought for more than the week (because I get a little crazy in there). I don't buy much in bulk except for toilet paper, laundry soap, and dog food. My daughters make their own lunch and breakfast. They'll eat leftovers for both many times, so that saves a lot.

  • We have no diet restrictions, other than I'm allergic to walnuts.

  • We're not trying to eat particularly healthy, although eating fairly healthy is important to us.

  • I use my crockpot A LOT because of that busy schedule. My teenagers have activities about 3 days a week and we have travel volleyball tournaments about 2 weekends a month.

  • I have a rice cooker from Japan and I use that quite a bit, too. If you eat a lot of rice, a rice cooker is awesome. You put in rice and water, it does everything else then keeps it warm.

  • I'm particularly blessed to have good eaters. My daughters came that way. Maybe because they are Chinese. Maybe because their dad has an extensive palette and we eat a lot of different stuff. He'll try anything. I mean anything. We lived in Japan, have traveled in Asia and other parts of the world, and he NEVER says no when offered food.

  • I didn't really start cooking until my mid-thirties when I decided to stay at home after adopting our first child. Before that my husband cooked and I cleaned up. That was our deal. I never liked cooking and wasn't ever particularly interested in it growing up. My favorite food as a child was sandwiches. My pleasure from cooking is in pleasing my family.

  • I learned how to cook in Japan. Because I had to. And I had a homestay mom who made me learn. So I do cook a lot of Japanese dishes, but mainly because we miss eating Japanese food.

  • And I'm not starting on January 1, because we were out of town and not on schedule until January 6.

And that's it. Follow me on Instagram at @LarissaReinhart or look for #365dinners.

Cuban sandwich

Day 1: Cuban sandwiches, broccoli slaw and tots. This was my first time to make this Cuban pork shoulder recipe in the slow cooker. It was AWESOME. I got it from the Better Homes and Garden Magazine January 2020 edition. I'll use the meat to make dinner Tuesday and Wednesday night, too.

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