I've got a set of methods I use in my daily routines. They're constantly changing and improving. Nothing is nailed down or written in stone. As I look at where I started, I'm happy to see things have come a ways since then. My hope is that method posts like these offer you encouragement in the processes you've started or are interested in. Take them, adapt them, and celebrate the progress as it happens. Then let's compare notes, I'd love to hear your stories along the way.
I love to have the pantry stock-piled and ready for a week of possibly throwing things together. It creates ease and makes cooking way more fun! Here is my method for busy weeks and healthy home-cooked meals.
Stock-Pile Your Favorite Ingredients
Once my mom told me she learned that if she didn't like an ingredient in the recipe, she wasn't going to like the meal. So she never stock-piled foods or even ingredients she didn't enjoy. This means we never had lamb or steak in the freezer, and we always had extra heads of broccoli. I take this advice seriously, there aren't jars of anchovies (ha!) or even olives (Cale doesn't love them). I prefer to stock the pantry with foods we enjoy eating, so when I throw things together (duh) we will like them!
- Black beans, garbanzo beans
- Quinoa, brown rice, lentils
- Tahini, almond butter
- Full fat coconut milk cans, diced tomatoes in a can
- Onions, sweet potatoes
- Oats, corn meal (for polenta or corn bread)
- A variety of flours (bread, regular, coconut, almond)
- A variety of nuts and seeds
- A variety of dried fruit
- Of course the baking essentials like vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, oils, etc . . .
- All the spices I love
Have a Handful of Go-To Meals
GO-TO MEAL #1 Cilantro Lime Chicken I found this recipe and majorly adapted it for my lifestyle, in an attempt to be dairy-free (my changes below). I don't measure when I add the ingredients, sometimes I use red onion, and I toss all of this into a crock pot for 4+ hours on high and serve with rice. Now when I'm buying produce, these fresh ingredients are always in the back of my mind, even if they don't make it on my list.
- 4 frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth (I recommend reduced sodium)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice (I use closer to 1.5 Tbsp)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 Tablespoons Coconut Cream
- 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
GO-TO MEAL #2 Creamy Polenta with Chicken Sausage and Peppers I pinned the recipe once. Truth is that was silly, this was a go-to recipe in my mom's kitchen. I usually keep some kind of chicken sausage in my freezer, so this meal is great when we have 30 minutes before we die/kill each other of hunger. Depending on the time, creamy polenta might be replaced with pierogis or I might make potatoes. The point is, cook up some sausage and peppers and add in some starch and you have yourself a meal!
Have a New Recipe or Two Each Week
I LOVE food. Much more than Cale. This means I can get really excited with new foods, so I like to have a handful of recipes on my Pinterest board that I can refer to when I am ready for adventure. Here is what I am looking forward to this week!
Make Ahead Super Green Vegan Quinoa Burritos
Bean Bowls with Poached Egg
The Best Ever Home-Made Flour Tortillas
The rest of the meals are all about being creative with what is in the pantry and fridge! I might make a batch of muffins or granola for the week's breakfast. We keep lettuce, spinach, peppers, and lunch mean stocked for easy lunches. I have been devouring smoothies and there are always left-overs because there are just two of us. When in doubt, I lean on Michael Pollan's food philosophy, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Food is meant to be enjoyed so it should be enjoyable through the whole process. Of course, do what works for you and your family and in my experience what works today might not work tomorrow so creativity is great for going with the flow!