So, what’s for dinner? Is it the frozen pizza or the pre-packaged “dinner entrees” from the freezer? Or is it the leftovers from the frozen pizza or the prepackaged dinner entrée? We’ve all been there and it is unfortunately that’s the case too many times. But with some weekly pre-planning, dinner or lunch can be a time to relax and enjoy a new recipe or try something new on your own with that frozen chicken that’s been taking up space in the freezer.

Pre-planning provides the opportunity to mix it up a little. How about something Hungarian one night and then Spanish another? Ever try some low-country dishes or find out what’s popular in Austin? The web provides the window that allows you to mix it up a bit. Search, for example, “popular recipes in Austin Texas”, and up pops Austin Food Magazine, brimming with recipes for you to try. Ditto for a search of “low country recipes”. But now comes the hard part. Which to choose and do we really want to buy that one ingredient that will remain in the house long after we do? So, you search for recipes that interest both of you, provide a different and interesting menu, and then do the shopping.

Cooking really can be such a relaxing, enjoyable time especially if you are trying something new. The aromas, the personal additions that come along (add a little white wine to the dish as an experiment), the curiosity, all add to the moment. There will be the spill, the boiling over, the spoon hitting the floor, etc., but a deep breath and you move on. As you are cooking, how about no TV, but some music to accompany your work? This will help add to the atmosphere and also calm you for that dropped spoon.

Another facet of the overall preparation can be the wine you choose to accompany the meal, if you so desire. This can also be a source of simple enjoyment, since you may try a new grape, or a wine from a different country that you would never have considered. Sometimes the recipes recommend certain wines to accompany the meal or you could try something on your own. Take a trip to the wine store and ask someone to help you with a recommendation, which can provide many different possibilities. For example, the recipe may recommend a Pinot Noir, but the Pinot Noir you pick can be sourced from many different areas, and a recommendation as to one that might excel in your price range is always beneficial.

So now you have finished preparing your new dish, you have your selected wine, and it’s time to enjoy your work. No reason to rush through the meal, but just enjoy it for the simple pleasure it is. And then – the dessert that you picked up, unknowing to your partner, as a simple surprise to complete the evening.

Cooking is such an easy way to enjoy life’s pleasures, and the best part is you can do it again and again, and it’s always creative. Plan ahead, and you’ll be glad you did.

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