In the last few years my husband and I have made cooking our own meals a priority – typically from scratch. Being open and willing to try new foods, recipes, and techniques for prepping food will help you discover (or rediscover) the joy of cooking.
Here’s a our strategies for getting through the busy week and still eating healthy, local, and organic.
Sign up for a CSA
CSA’s are wonderful! Where else can you get fresh in-season food at a good price from a farmer that you know? Also, the volume of food that you recieve at once helps you plan the following week.
There are typically options for the volume and content of your share. Each week we typically get an array of vegetables, fruit, dairy, and eggs. We’ve also received milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, tofu, seitan, bread, honey, jam, canned items, and flowers. And for carnivores many CSA’s also offer meat shares of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. We’ve even found a local Community Supported Seafood (CSS) business that sells fish and shellfish shares.
Plan Your Meals
We buy a few items to supplement what we received and make a general plan for the week. We have a laser focus when/if we go to the grocery store – make a short list and stick to it.
Although examining your current food supplies and imagining the dishes you can make them can be difficult at first, it does get better with practice! We use technology to help us – sites/apps like Epicurious and Big Oven are great for researching new veggies & fruit and what to do with them.
Food Prep Day
We set aside one day of the week to do the bulk of food processing. We visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and pick up our CSA (often with a brunch with friends thrown in). We wash, chop, bake, sauté, and otherwise prep as much as we can that afternoon to prepare for the week. We also have a bread machine and mixer, so we bake a loaf or mix muffin batter to use through the week.
Setting up an enjoyable weekly habit helps you become connected with your food, your marriage, and community. And as a bonus makes it much easier to throw together a meal on a week night!
Use Left Overs
We’ve made left overs an integral part of our week. Food from Saturday can be used by themselves or part of a meal (e.g. sautéed veggies heated and added to fresh boiled pasta) and we often intentionally cook double or triple portions of dinner to be used for lunch the next day.
Some days you’re going to come home and won’t want to do anything! For these days I use my favorite foods and techniques:
- Throw some veggies in boiling pasta water to make them a bit more tender. Toss with oil/butter and spices (e.g. basil) and you’re done in under 10 minutes.
- Throw chard, mushrooms, crab, and/or broccoli in a steamer basket and within 10 minutes you have a full meal.
- Sautéing is quick if you already have veggies processed for the week – and a great addition to pasta.
- Baking a pizza is simple and you can jazz it up with your own cheese, veggies, and spices. You can also prep ahead on Saturday – make your dough and add your own toppings.
What strategies have worked for you? What were the least effective?
Is cooking a priority in your life? Why or why not?