Strategies for Cooking Every Meal

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.

Emergency Standby

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?

8 thoughts on “Strategies for Cooking Every Meal

  1. We try to make all our own food, too. Pre-made food from the grocery store doesn’t even taste like real food, but many people don’t notice because they are so used to it (they forgot what the real thing tastes like).

    We looked at a CSA thing in our area, but you know what? It was way more expensive than just buying what we needed at the Farmer’s Market in town, and didn’t have the variety. I definitely recommend looking at the Market for anyone who finds their local CSA’s don’t suit them.

    We have kind of a long commute because of living in the country, so we often get home sort of late. We tend to eat light during the week. We often have eggs or stir fry or something quick and easy like that, and save the larger, fancier meals for the weekend.

    1. I’ve had a great experience with the CSA and often got too much food rather than too little for the price. On the whole I think we saved more than we spent. Obviously all of this will vary widely by region, interest, and finances.

      Buying directly from the market is also a good strategy for people who prefer to eat out on week nights with friends (something that is on the rise for us now that we live in a big city) and would need less food each week.

      1. Oh yeah, our market has some nice homemade meat pies and quiches and such – very yummy. Maybe one day we’ll have a CSA in our area that makes a little more sense for us. 🙂

  2. I just want to say that I have been to their house and their fridge is always practically bare. I suppose this is a testament to the effectiveness of planning ahead (food is probably never wasted) but I am always nervous when faced with an empty fridge. I like mine full and cluttered.

    But planning meals for the week is awesome. Tried it once and it turned out great. Now I just need to come up with a plan for planning meals — to make sure I do it every week.

    1. You’ve mostly seen a winter fridge!

      We’re only getting biweekly pick ups and have been supplementing with the grocery store. Typically in the spring/summer the fridge is quite full. Check back this summer. 🙂

      Our plan for planning: See what we get … use the thing that will go bad quickest first, freeze the excess, repeat.

  3. Plus you and Jason are awesome cooks. I still think about that pasta you guys made.

    One of my friends cooks all her food for the month in one day. I did this with her a few times and it was awesome. We split the cost of groceries and it was way less than if I just did the typical routine. Plus it was nice to not have to worry about cooking anything for a while and I ate healthier since there was no excuse for junk food.

  4. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

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