Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter Cooking Plan

baked sweet potatoes

So you know this, I don't want to be cooking all the time. That's a little ridiculous for me to say, I'm cooking a lot of the time and I have a lot of time to cook. Because I only work two (three?) days a week in the office, and because the other three (two?) days cooking for this blog apparently is my work albeit unpaid. Maybe a better way to say it is, I always want to have food. Ha ha, truer words never said. But what that means is when I'm hungry, I want food to be right at hand. How does that happen.

  1. I have a long-term food plan. I mean, I have a really long-term food plan that lays out what to eat the whole year round but the part I keep in my head is what to eat for at least this whole month and ideally this whole season. Because why, because keeping them and everything about them in my head and only so much room. So fewer things fit better, and longer means you get more mileage out of them.
  2. Then I lay it all out for the season:
    1. when I'm eating what - these are all the times that I want food to be at hand, and what food
    2. when I'm cooking what - these are highlighted, my basic strategy is to cook for some to be eaten now and some to be put away to be eaten later, and as long as I'm in the kitchen, cook a bunch of other stuff to be eaten later.
    3. what ingredients I need for what - since I'm just making variations on maybe half a dozen different recipes, if that, I can write up a grocery list for the entire season and reuse it every week, and not only that, I've started to reuse planners from previous years, so it's even less work. That said, I tweak a lot. Still, it's less work than always starting from scratch.

So this is how I do, first of all, there's the green tea and lemon in bed, or coffee and milk on the weekend. Okay then for breakfast it's eggs in puree at the beginning and sweet or savory clafouti at the end of the week, for lunch it's slow chicken and steamed vegetables, for dinner it's sweet potato and quinoa with roasted vegetables, and for post-workout snack it's greek yogurt with roasted apples. Except Tuesday is taco night, Friday I've been trying to make this slow-cooked salmon, and Saturday is catch as catch can.

Okay so Monday and Wednesday mornings is when I have to do my housework, which I get that not everybody has. Here's the thing, housework takes time to do and it won't get done if you don't take the time. Or it won't get done by you, there is such a thing as hiring a cleaning lady or even a cook. Honestly I think more people should consider this, I feel like people paint themselves into a corner too often with impossible requirements. Seriously, stop trying to do impossible things. I don't mean stop trying, I mean start making them possible.

Anyway, Monday morning I put on a pot of cauliflower or carrot puree. And I put a pan of sweet potatoes and a pan of apples in the oven, and I think if I get a third little cake pan I can do a pan of cherry tomatoes too. And I also put some chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker. Everything cooks, I tidy up the bedroom and the kitchen, I eat my breakfast, I put up jars of sweet potatoes and apples and cherry tomatoes, I get on with my day while the slow chicken keeps cooking, and eventually I put up jars of that, too.

slow chicken paprikash in jars

Wednesday all I have to do is put a pan of quinoa and vegetables in the oven, but that's only because I have a tiny oven. If you have a normal-sized oven, you could probably just roast everything that roasts at 500 degrees all at the same time and be done.

And that's it, you have a fridge full of mason jars that you can grab all week and, actually, mix and match a little bit. I just made the sweetie man a little chicken soup for his cold from a container of chicken broth that I had in the freezer, a head of garlic, a thumb of ginger, a jar of slow chicken, and a few big spoonfuls out of the quinoa jar, ta da, stone soup.

And obviously, for groceries, you pick on the list which variations you want this week, check which ingredients you have, circle the ones you don't, and go out and get your groceries.