Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.


Food: What’s for dinner?

I like the food column in the Listener each week. A nice mix of chatty information as well as a recipe or two.

A few weeks back the regular writer, Lois Daish, wrote about how for many families dinner (or tea) revolves around a simple repertoire of seven favourite meals. In the article she cites a couple of people’s lists of what these are and makes the comment,

The principal ingredients chosen by both women are amazingly similar. Their favourite meats are minced beef, chicken and lamb, and both regularly cook pasta and rice dishes that don’t include much meat. However, the way they approach these ingredients is rather different. Sarah seasons her food very simply but takes a particular interest in its texture, defining her food according to whether it is crunchy or moist or tender. Hester, on the other hand, enjoys more intense flavours, such as mustard, tomatoes and chilli, and most of her food is moist rather than crisp. For her, the story behind the recipe is important.

See Food: What’s for dinner? by Lois Daish | New Zealand Listener (September 9-15 2006 Vol 205 No 3461).

So, seeing as I cook most of the evening meals, I thought I’d try to put my list of seven meals that we tend to have regularly. (Not that I’m trying to start a new meme or anything, but I’d be interest in knowing what other people’s most frequent seven are and how many they cook for.)

Garner Repertoire of Seven Frequent (and Favourite) Meals (cooked for 2 adults and 4 children)

  1. Tex-Mex (Enchiladas, Burritos or Tacos depending on which child voices an opinion) plus salad.
  2. Breakfast sausages, onions, vegetables, and mashed potato.
  3. Butter chicken, green beans or peas, and rice.
  4. Boiled corned beef/silverside (not the tinned stuff) cooked with peppercorns, bayleaves and golden syrup in the water, potatoes and carrots cooked with the meat, and cabbage. Leftovers for sandwiches or another dinner.
  5. Casserole of some sort – Typically beef stew (with potatoes and vegetables in stew) or oven-cooked beef stroganoff with rice and vegetables.
  6. Cold meat (ham, salami, chicken, leftover corn beef), bread, olives, cheese and salad.
  7. Pasta meal – typically lasagne.

Now I like well-seasoned food, and particularly Mediterranean, Indian and Tex-Mex cuisine. But some of my family don’t, so we compromise and the food tends to be only mildly spicy (if at all), and I add sauces/pepper etc. to mine later at the table.


  1. Mark

    Stephen – Mark W here from Waiwhetu (remember us from St Ps). Pleased to say Sarah is the chief cook but Saturday is my day! Being keen to impress I normally do mashed potato with something. Lasagne has been a hit as is mince pie. We do the pasta thing at least once a week. A good ole fry up now and then. James dies for roast chicken. Curry is great although Rachel is not so good on the hot stuff. Then of course F&C once a fortnight. Soup in winter. I love playing with fire on the BBQ and we have one of those kettles in which you can shove a big piece of meat. Sadly sausages are no longer popular with the female members of the family so I can no longer justify bangers and mash.

  2. Hi Mark. Nice of you to drop by. Say ‘Hi’ to Sarah for us.

    The kettle BBQ’s are great. We’ve used Kim’s Dad’s one to roast the Christmas turkey a few times.

    If you ever get the opportunity to watch Alton Brown’s cooking programme ‘Good Eats’ there’s a few episodes that use kettle BBQs – including a great one where he uses a foil chimney in the BBQ to superheat a small area to cook some fish.

    Sorry to hear about the sausages – good quality ones grilled with onions, gravy and mash are one of the best comfort foods in the world.

  3. Hmm, not sure I can manage 7 without quite a bit of thought whittling the list down… but the top few would be:

    Stir Fry (last night’s meal) since the children are adult now it was more “sophisticated” with mixed fungi (from the Chinese shop) as well as the pork mince, and watercress (in season again:) as well as the usual veges…

    Sliced Cabanos on green lentils

    Curry (those nice quick packets of premade curries in metallic plastic from the Indian greengrocer, with his wife’s homemade dahl and chapatis, with some shrimp added to the packet curry)

    Salad (based on the mixed leaves from the greengrocer)

    Flat bread with courgettes, Feta (flavoured with mint, lemon zest and chilli)

    For special occasions Roast (especially the potatoes) and Baked Alaska

    When it’s a church “PodBible Free Lunch” soup and French Bread

    There that’s seven!

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