The LAST thing I have time to do is spend three hours in the kitchen. Or even two. One is pushing it. What I need to do is eat more food cooked by my own hands where I can control the ingredients, namely the stuff that is making me puff up around the middle. 🙂
How do I balance the two?
I have gotten a lot of “feedback” from well meaning family and friends who think I starve my poor family because I follow a plant based diet and I do not cook traditional meals that they approve of like macaroni and cheese filled with fake cheese-like “product”, turnip greens with hamhocks and salt pork, chicken fried in Crisco, bacon, fried eggs and white toast soaked in butter for breakfast and peach cobblers, cakes and pies to help seal the deal. I’m not judging. I’ve eating PLENTY of these foods in my life time and I enjoyed EVERY MINUTE of it. What I didn’t enjoy was what it did to my body. Not only do I not have the TIME to spend all day cooking, I don’t have the desire to share this with my family. (And, believe me, no one in my house is starving or suffering from a deficit in any way.) I choose to take a different approach.
I keep my processes in the kitchen simple. Most times, I do not cook things that require recipes. I think vegetable, grain, protein. Period. For my family, I may bake chicken, cook couscous and steam broccoli. No recipe required. I will take that couscous and broccoli, maybe add another veggie or tempeh for more protein if I want extra (maybe grill it) and that’s dinner. It doesn’t take a lot of preparation. It’s quick. It’s healthy. Same thing with fish. My kids love tilapia. I grill it. Sometimes they just want vegetables with it. We’ll make a salad and it’s done. I am thankful that my family doesn’t complain much about any type of food but it’s because I have always rotated out the things I serve and keep fruits and vegetables prevalent in our meals (but my kids do like Sonic and McDonald’s). When I need to cook something that takes a long time, I start in the morning with minimal preparation and think of simple stuff to prepare during the day.
Let’s take today. This morning, I put fresh peas in the crock pot and put them on low. I came home for lunch and put on a pot of mixed greens. While they are cooking, I made a quick stir-fry of mushrooms and anaheim peppers with onions and garlic and had a sliced tomatoes and brown/wild rice. In a couple of hours, my dinner will be done.
The key is preparation. The same way you would have to go to the store to buy all of your ingredients to prepare a large feast, think of preparing your house the same way. Always have a few staple items that you can piece together a meal. Things like chicken breasts, chick peas, ground turkey, tofu and black beans can be used in a thousand different ways. Keep a variety of veggies (I use fresh and frozen, especially when our farmer’s markets end in October) and a few different grains. (A secret I found is to cook a large amount of one grain on Sunday and just constantly eat it throughout the week).
Eating well does take time and thought. I have been caught out more than once, unprepared, standing in the line at Chipotle, wishing I had gotten my shopping done. However, with a little bit thought and practice, you can cut your kitchen time and your calories.
Sauteing is sexy. 🙂