>> Thursday, February 18, 2010
A month ago, I related my K.I.S.S. method for saving time in the kitchen. Basically, the idea is that you can save time when cooking from scratch by keeping it simple: simple sides, simple meals, simple breads, simple stews...
Cooking from scratch is an important part of being a Conscious Shopper:
- When you buy basic ingredients like oats, beans, and rice from the bulk bins, you cut back on your trash production.
- When you use fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, you cast a vote for a reformed food system and keep your family healthier.
- And perhaps most importantly, you save money, making it possible for you to afford those fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.
Keeping it simple in the kitchen can save you time. And here's my other big tip for saving time when cooking from scratch:
Do you ever have those "Oh, crap, it's 5:00!" moments? You know, those days when you're rushed, rushed, rushed, and you only have 20 minutes to get dinner on the table, and you spend 15 minutes of it staring into your fridge trying to figure out what to make. So you end up having PB&J.
Or you decide that you're going to have spaghetti for dinner, only to discover that you've run out of tomato sauce. So you eat PB&J.
A meal plan will solve your problems. No more staring blankly into the fridge - you'll know as soon as you walk in the door what you're going to make. No more running out of key ingredients...well, okay, running out of key ingredients less often. No more PB&J. (Unless you really love peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Then by all means, stick with your current system.)
Your meal plan doesn't have to be ultra detailed. It doesn't have to be overly restrictive. It should simply be a basic guide to what you have available to eat in a given week. For example, my basic meal plan goes like this:
Thursday: stir fry
Friday: bean burgers
On shopping day, I get more specific about what we're going to eat on a given night. Mexican changes to "nachos." Bean burgers become "butter bean burgers with collard greens." Etc. From there, I can easily make a grocery list, ensuring that I have everything I need to cook for the week.
But just because I've said Tuesday is going to be nacho night doesn't mean I can't decide to make burritos instead. Same basic ingredients so an easy swap. Or I might decide on Tuesday that I'm not in the mood for nachos and would rather make butter bean burgers. Easy enough to swap Tuesdays meal for Fridays and still have everything I need to quickly make dinner all week.
And of course, don't forget to keep your meal plan simple. I make pizza on my bread baking day because I can use some of the bread dough as pizza crust and toss the pizza onto the bottom of the oven while the rest of my bread is baking. Once a week, we eat scrambled eggs and toast for dinner because I can get the entire meal on the table in less than 30 minutes, including chopping vegetables to add to the eggs and toasting and buttering ten pieces of bread. I also make sure to plan dinners that will take more time for days I know I'll have time.
I had originally planned this post as a list of ideas for saving time in the kitchen, but meal planning took over. So you'll have to wait for the rest of the tips on another day.
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