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[personal profile] dancingyel
Although I've been doing a few big canning projects (the results of some of which I've shared here), I've had a hard time sticking to a cooking plan and budget in the last few months. The combination of a full-time job and my dissertation has made it difficult to have energy for anything more complex than throwing a few things in a pan. Even that doesn't always come together, so we end up going out more or eating random stuff. Mu has done a lot to pick up the slack, but he also has a full-time job, so take-out happens more frequently than we'd like.

I will be defending my dissertation in less than a week (weee! eeeeeek!), so I think and hope that starting next month, I'll be more able to get back to cooking regularly. I think I'd like to do a challenge of some sort, since that kind of structure helps me stick to a plan, but I haven't decided what exactly. There are a few options that other people have done, and of course I can always create my own.

Eating Rules, one of the food blogs I enjoy, does a yearly project called "October Unprocessed," which encourages people to pledge to eat only unprocessed foods, with no ingredients that can't be reasonably made in a home kitchen, for the whole month of October (or for as much of it as they can manage). I did part of it last year, but it just wasn't happening this year, between the dissertation and work and all. However, I'm wondering if this might be a good project for me to do next month. It would help me focus on cooking and also combine with my desire to eat more locally anyways. I'd have to cut out my red bulls (or make a specific exemption for them) and figure out a few other substitutes, but it shouldn't be horribly difficult. It wouldn't be super easy, either, so it may be just the balance I need. The downside would be that I wouldn't be able to use anything with sugar, which includes my own canned goods. I could make a specific exemption for that, of course, but the point of the challenge is to not make too many exemptions!

Another project I'm contemplating, though this seems like it would take more planning and perhaps more effort than I'm able to give right now, is the Snap Challenge (very brief summary here). Since I would be doing it less to raise awareness and more as a personal challenge, I would probably modify it a bit and make some exceptions to allow for more flexibility. Still, I'm not sure I can do it in November -- not enough mental space between now and then for the necessary planning. Also, given that Thanksgiving is coming up and we're probably hosting people, this wouldn't be very reasonable.

Alternately, I could always do what I attempted when I was starting this blog several years ago, which is to cook a certain amount of new dishes over the course of the month. I had originally tried to do 30 new recipes, but I don't think that would be feasible given my work schedule. I could set a goal of 15, perhaps, and see how it goes. The upside of this challenge is it would get me experimenting in the kitchen again, which I enjoy. The downside is that I do like the ease of cooking old favorites. I suppose I could make the goal more broad, like cooking 15 different dishes rather than 15 brand new ones (or make it 20 if I'm not doing the brand new thing).

Anyways, that's what I'm contemplating right now. Suggestions are welcome!
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