If you are like 90% of the American cooks in the kitchen under the age of 50, you do not have a home-grown model of cooking tips, meal planning, and organization. Most of our mothers worked outside the home. Either they picked up “something quick” on the way home or had a stash of TV dinners in the freezer.
When you begin to do your own cooking (as opposed to letting McDonald’s do it), you find yourself searching the cupboards for an ingredient that is not there. Then, you make a run to the store. You might be missing so many component parts that it is just easier to go for take-out again. The cycle continues.
Here is the remedy: PLANNING. I describe my method in the video and have written it up below.
The ideal cooking plan is to:
- Plan meals for the week.
- Make up the shopping list based on the meal plan.
- Shop once.
Here is a challenge: For one week keep track of how much time you spend searching the cabinets and running to the store, even if the store stop is on the way home from work or from soccer practice. Count it all. You will be shocked! What could you do with that saved time? Perhaps you could spend an extra couple of hours relaxing!
There are two basic cooking tips, planning tips really, to enjoy this sort of time-saving.
Cooking Tip 1: Have A Well-Stocked Pantry
Your pantry includes your non-perishables. Keep the things on hand that you use regularly in your favorite dishes. When you open a new bottle of olive oil, replace it in your next shopping. Your pantry should have oils, vinegars, seasoning, condiments, seeds and nuts, grains, and sweeteners that you use regularly.
Cooking Tip 2: Plan For ALL Of Your Eating
Plan out your menus to include all the meals that will be eaten at home and/or meals that you will tote with you. Plan so that when you cook, you are providing portions of a second and third meal.
For instance, make a meatloaf for one night that you will serve with baked potato, sauted broccoli and green salad. Make the meatloaf big enough to make more dishes such as these:
- Meatloaf sandwiches.
- Salad topped with meatloaf.
- Soup with meatloaf.
You see that out of that one evening meal you’ve provided the component parts for two or three other meals.
Those next meals do not have to look like leftovers. Use sauces and seasoning with flair. For instance, instead of the usual ketchup on the meatloaf sandwich, try some sliced tomato, arugula leaves, thinly sliced pepperoni, and a dash of homemade Italian dressing, all on sourdough bread. You could open a stand with that sandwich and make some money!
As another example, add some zip to your soup. Heat up your homemade beef broth. When it comes to a simmer, add minced garlic and chopped candied ginger for a Southeast Asian flair. Add a can of coconut milk and those meatloaf chunks. When the pot has reached the simmer stage again, add the broccoli and some minced cilantro. If you keep curry paste in the refrigerator, you can add a little for some fire in the soup. This is rich, satisfying, and anything but a leftover.
For a different sort of salad, toss the meatloaf chunks with broccoli, chopped fresh tomato, fresh basil, sliced black olives, and a good homemade salad dressing of your choosing. Homemade ranch would be excellent. Serve the mixture on a bed of greens. This salad makes a super travel dish!
Cooking Tips In A Nutshell
To be most efficient in the kitchen and to avoid the temptation of eating out, do take time to plan. Here is your key to-do list:
- Make time to plan.
- Carefully put together you shopping list.
- Be creative in how you plan and use the “leftovers”. Treat this like a game, like an adventure where you take a little more ground every week. Don’t let it just be a chore. When cooking is a chore, the taste of the food usually reflects it. Be an artist. Let the food be your palette. Enjoy!
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