Two at the Table is about one couple, Kim and Tony Pillari, enjoying dinner together.
The idea for Two at the Table came to us after seeing the surprised reactions of some of our friends when we told them that we make and eat dinner together, four to five nights a week. We enjoy doing it and it’s been a big part of our relationship since even before we were married. We also save money compared to eating out or ordering in, though we usually do that a couple of times a week too.
Our friends were surprised that we could pull this off and wanted to know how we manage to do it. We explained that all it takes is a little planning: every Saturday morning, we write up our menu for the coming week and then place an order with our locally based, on-line grocery store, Fresh Direct, for delivery on Sunday. Our grocer uses a pretty accurate rating system for fruits and veggies, as well as for meat and fish, and that plays a big role in helping us figure out what’s fresh or in season and what we want to make for the coming week. We’ll hit the local supermarket if there’s anything we can’t get on-line if we think of something .
We tend to save the more complicated dishes for the weekends, but we’ve tackled some challenging things during the week by doing some prep work (like chopping veggies or making sauces) ahead of time. We’re not huge fans of leftovers, so we tend to cook only enough for two, and we like variety, so we won’t often make big dishes that will last us throughout the week. However, if we know we have a busy week ahead, we can be flexible about these two “rules”. In the end, as one of our close friends pointed out, it’s not really about the food, it’s about spending time together. (Well, OK, it’s at least partly about the food!)
Our goal is to share our weekly menus with you plus links or other references to the recipes. We’ll also share out notes about each meal: how much work was involved, how we enjoyed it, how it tasted, and if we’d make it again.
We hope you’re able to get some ideas from our blog. Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experiences with our menus, to ask questions, or to give us ideas for dishes that you love to make and eat together!
We’ve gotten a few questions about us from our readers, so we thought we would field those periodically. We’ll mix the Q’s & A’s in with our usual posts and also add them to this page.
Q: What time do you usually get home?
A: It varies a bit, but Tony usually gets home around 7:00 and Kim usually gets home around 8:00. We usually sit down to dinner at about 8:30 or so. This means that we try to choose weeknight recipes that take no more than an hour from start to finish.
Q: How big is your kitchen?
A: Tiny, as the picture above shows. If you measure wall to wall, it’s about 5 feet by 7 feet, or 35 square feet. If you just measure the tiled area (basically, where we can stand), it’s more like 3.5 feet by 5 feet, or 17.5 square feet. In other words, you don’t need a big kitchen to do what we do!
We are lucky though – when we bought our place back in November 2011, the kitchen was in the process of being completely redone. As part of the buying process, we were given a budget for the kitchen and access to a designer. We were able to build in quite a bit of cabinet space and even got a dishwasher, which helps a lot, plus some really nice appliances. We went over budget by a bit, which added to the final purchase price. Given how much we do in our kitchen and how much joy we get from it, it was totally worth it!
Q: How do you decide what to make?
A: A lot of things factor in to how we create our menus.
We’re looking at new recipes throughout the week and if we see something new and fun we’ll add that to the menu. There always seems to be one dish on the menu that got there because of a conversation that started with “You know, we haven’t had X in forever”. Occasionally, we’ll take a trip somewhere and see ingredients that help us plan a menu, like duck or shellfish or fresh veggies when we take day trips to Long Island. Last but not least, we generally save more complicated dishes for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays because we have more time to cook.
Another thing that factors into our decision is the rating system of our online grocer, Fresh Direct. They rate all of their veggies, produce, fish, and meat, so if we see something that looks really good, or that’s featured because it’s in season or is on sale, we’ll try to work around that. We try to have seafood once a week, usually Sunday or Monday (or maybe Tuesday), so that we can use fresh fish and not frozen. We also try to eat vegetarian once a week. We hate to waste food, even herbs, so if we need a bunch of dill or head of cabbage for a recipe one week, we’ll try to find another recipe for later in the same week or early in the next that uses that same ingredient.