Welcome to My World

The best-laid plans...

Debbie Koenig

Thanks to a leak in the basement, more than half the apartments in my building have been without gas for the last ten days. That’s right: no stove, no oven. My range serves as little more than a clock at the moment. They say it could be a while.

You might think this is the absolute worst time to start a newsletter devoted to meal planning. But I’d say the opposite. Right now, all I think about is how on earth I’ll get dinner on the table. I’m adapting and adjusting every idea I have, until I can make it work. And thanks to my Instant Pot and a toaster oven I’ve managed pretty well. We’ve had black beans and rice, beef stew, risotto, and lentil soup, and I managed to roast a cauliflower in the toaster (ok, it took two batches and almost an hour, but it got done).

My son, aka the pickiest kid on the planet, has eaten none of this. Pretty much all of his favorite foods require a burner or an oven: ramen noodles, roast chicken, steak, pizza, potstickers, scrambled eggs.* Absolutely no sauces of any kind, which eliminates most food from the Instant Pot. Even his favorite, hot dogs, are acceptable only when sliced down the middle and browned in a skillet until they’re almost crunchy.

Earlier today, building management supplied us with nifty electric burners. Guess who had hot dogs for lunch? Kiddo is 13 now, so at least he’s cooking his own.

Here’s the thing about meal planning: Sometimes, your gas gets cut off and you have to improvise. That’s the kind of meal-planning I specialize in, what I’ll be offering in this newsletter. The kind where you know what you want to do, but if you don’t follow it exactly it’s ok. Everyone still eats. As you use more of my plans, you’ll find yourself becoming more flexible in the kitchen, more able to look at what you have on hand and make it work. More confident in your abilities. At some point, maybe you won’t even need my help.

Later this week I’ll be sending out your first menu and shopping list. After that, you’ll get the details on how to make it all work. I’d love to hear from you: What you think of the newsletter, what you’re looking for, what’s keeping you from feeding your family the way you want to—just reply to this email.

Until Thursday,


* I realize this list makes it sound like he’s a pretty good eater. But other than fruit and junk food, this is literally all he eats. And each of those items only works when prepared a certain way—my boy is the opposite of flexible when it comes to food. But I’ve never cooked a separate meal for him, so on days when he doesn’t like what I’ve made he’ll just have fruit or bread. I also concur that his required method for cooking hot dogs produces an undeniably delicious wiener.