Julia Stephan

Senior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

What is your way to dinner?
Maybe you’re the type who is always perfectly prepared with a full fridge (we’re impressed!). But, maybe you’re the type who sits hungry in the office come 5 o’clock, only to return home to an empty pantry. From there, you head (stressfully!) to the supermarket to buy random ingredients that you can only finally eat late at night (we feel you!).
We’ve been there too—and so were Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the founders of Food52, if you can believe it. As working ladies and mothers, they wanted to change their situation, and so they came up with “A New Way to Dinner.”
In their latest cookbook, (which they’d rather call a ‘playbook’), they present new ideas to get organized for the week’s meals. Here are five lessons we learned:

1. Plan ahead!

Planning is the base for your new way to dinner. The main idea is to prepare dishes ahead for a whole week, so that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat each evening. The biggest benefit is that you’re coming home knowing what’s in the fridge and what to do with it.
This may look overwhelming in the beginning, but “A New Way to Dinner” has you covered! It’s divided into seasons and complete weekly plans. Simply choose a weekly menu and follow all instructions. You’ll find everything you need in there—from grocery shopping lists to recipe steps and additional tips. The only thing you have to do is shop and cook.

2. Weekends are for cooking!

The goal is to only combine prepared food and dishes throughout the week. This requires that all shopping is done on Saturday, and all preparation on Sunday.
Each menu explains exactly which ingredients are prepared in what order, and how they can be combined afterwards. Preparation for the week takes between 2 – 4 hours, but better start with calculating more time than that in the beginning. Each menu also makes sure that leftovers will be available that can be used for weekday lunches!

3. Time for Storage Porn!

Since you’re preparing loads of food ahead, make sure to store them well. Time for airtight containers, jars, and sealable plastic bags! It’s not just a matter of storing prepared dishes safely, but also to learn how to freeze and reheat food correctly. There are several tips on all of those topics in the book, as well as suggestions of ingredients that you should always keep in your kitchen.

4. Back to recipes!

Of course it’s great to get creative in the kitchen, but when it comes to weekday dinners, this costs much-needed time and energy. Especially in stressful times, it’s such a relief to stick to reliable recipes. This playbook is full of them, and most of them can be easily modified if you want to get creative.

5. Relax!

This new way to dinner probably means altering your whole cooking routine. It is wonderful to have a somewhat perfect plan, but don’t put yourself under too much pressure. If you like, start by planning 2 or 3 days ahead. And if you still end up with a pizza from delivery service from time to time—enjoy it!

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