On Making Time to Cook

MoreWithLess

Jon bought me a cookbook years ago called “The More-With-Less Cookbook.” It’s a collection of recipes and suggestions on “how to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources.” I’m not Mennonite, but I think it’s a great concept with a lot of proven health and history behind it. I’ve only used one recipe from it so far, but I was perusing it this week to see how I can use these beans we’re growing in the garden (pinto, black, garbanzo, edamame and green lentils). I’m also in crazy-debt-payoff mode and trying very hard to reduce my food budget while still enjoying my food, which is very important to me. (Some people buy Coach purses; I buy artichokes and organic bell peppers). So the answer for me right now is to plan well and cook and eat at home.

I’ve got a lot of friends out there with demanding careers or growing families that keep them extremely busy, many with both. Since it can be hard to carry on regular life even without the added aspect of cooking, I wanted to share this list of insights I found in the cookbook from busy people who feel that cooking food at home for themselves and their family is important for budget, environmental sustainability and/or health reasons, no matter the schedule. Some of these things make more sense if you have the cookbook in hand, but I think they’re still a good place to start if you think this might be important to you. Here are their tips on how to help streamline the shopping/preparation/cooking process in order to cook…and still have a life.

1. Share cooking and clean-up tasks within the household. No one person can do it alone while maintaining a working day elsewhere.

2. Community or close-proximity living styles offer further possibilities for shared cooking. Two families we know share a large house. One couple is responsible for meals on week nights while the other cooks on weekends. They also alternate dishwashing responsibilities.

3. Morning can be the most hectic time. One parent and an older child might make breakfast while the other packs lunches and helps younger children get dressed. When nutritious bread and quick-cooking cereal or granola are on hand, good breakfasts are fast.

4. Simplify the menus. Make fewer dishes but larger quantities. If the family eats bedtime snacks anyway, omit dessert, or eat dessert only on weekends.

5. Plan menus a week at a time. In the morning, you can do a few things to prepare for dinner and lose no time wondering what to fix.

6. To cut down on weekly shopping time, buy in quantity staples that do not spoil. (i.e. whole wheat flour, wheat germ, cornmeal, oil, nuts, raisins…)

7. Organize a cook-bake-freeze system. Make double or triple amounts of main dishes and baked goods on weekends. Refrigerate or freeze extra quantities in oven-proof dishes for week-night dinners. If frozen, remove dish from freezer and place in oven. Set timer to heat for dinner.

8. Make large batches of granola for ever-ready breakfasts, lunches or snacks.

9. To use soybeans or other legumes, soak and cook large amounts. Freeze in small containers or keep in refrigerator for quick use throughout the week.

10. Freeze meat in small amounts so it can be easily chopped and stir-fried with vegetables.

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2 Responses

  1. The book seemed pointless to me. I feel like I wasted my time reading it because I didn’t get anything out of it. Her attacks on Bush were funny.

  2. It looks like you hated the cookbook…can’t you reply to the comments I leave on your blog on the blog post itself?

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