The other day my daughter said to me at dinner, “you know that this is our 45th dinner we have sat down together for. In a row.”
Wow. Well, when you look at it that way, that is a lot of dinners made at home, in one stretch. And for us, not a single dinner taken in.
I certainly have had moments of burnout. I have helpers (my daughter and husband will cook a basic meal) but the majority of cooking as been on me and every once in a while I dream of sitting down in a restaurant and being served. One day.
For now, we are all doing our best and, as I have said before, cooking meals does not have to be about winning a contest for best photographed meal. But they do need to be (mostly) healthy and, or course, delicious.
I look at my kitchen as a vessel and I am the captain. This ship needs to sail smoothly through all the rough waters we are in right now. Here a few key ways that keep my kitchen, and my motivation, going, and hopefully they can help you too.
Get The Right Tools
There are timesaver and gadgets that seemed good at the time, but can frustrate you to no end. I’ve learned to go for the timesavers. Even in BC (before Corona) I knew that anywhere I could save time I would. Great examples are my Vitamix (soups. smoothies, pestos, sauces), food processor (chopping, grating, slicing), slow cooker (stocks, stews) and my trusty knife.
Know How To Use Your Knife
Every tried to slice a tomato with a dull knife? You know what I’m talking about. I liken my chef’s knife as my #1 personal kitchen assistant. That said, it needs care and it needs to be sharp and well taken care of. Haven’t sharpened your knife since you got it as a wedding present? A dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one. Learn how to sharpen yours so you can keep it cutting and chopping the right way.
Stock Your Pantry Correctly
A pantry is meant to be a well oiled machine, not the place to store last years can of Thanksgiving cranberries. Take a look in those cabinets, toss out what is old or never used, and stock with items you use a lot of. Right now, my pantry is filled with dried beans, canned diced tomatoes, coconut milk, dried pastas, brown rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds, to name a few. In my condiments shelf is tamari, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, fish sauce (for Thai dishes that we eat frequently), and a variety of vinegars. During Corona, my freezer has a variety of frozen vegetables and fruits, homemade soups and lots of chicken stock for soups, grains and stews. The point is, stock what you use a lot of. You should be able to open up your pantry and make a meal or two in a pinch with what is in there.
Embrace Meal Planning
Meal planning is a habit I embraced years ago when healthy eating really became a high priority for me, and I’ve never looked back. Sitting down once a week, evaluating what I have on hand, what I need, browsing through recipes, is all part of it. Although we seem to have more “time” on our hands right now, I still have my career and I still want to make my food healthy and good. Meal planning gives you control over your food and takes the guesswork out of “what’s for dinner?”
Strategize Meal Prep
I just posted to my Facebook Group, Healthy Cooking During Corona, how I used a roasted chicken three ways (chicken salad, chicken tortilla casserole and the bones to make bone broth). Meal prep is a game that I like to win at. Prepping at the beginning of the week, or considering how one dish can be made a few different ways is part of the magic. Other examples might include dried beans (I am soaking some chickpeas right now, half into a soup, half will be roasted as a snack) or even chopping the carrots, celery and onion for a soup at the beginning of the week to use in your slow cooker on Wednesday.
You are the Commander in Chief of your kitchen so let your space, your tools, meal planning skills and prep help you out to save time. How else do you save time in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments below!
Join me this Friday May 8th at noon EST on Zoom to talk more about Corona Kitchen Pantry Hacks. Join me virtually in the Green Palette Kitchen and learn how to healthy cooking as easy, healthy and inspirational as possible. I will share some of my secrets for keeping my kitchen humming, demo how to sharpen a knife the right way and talk about even more time saving ingredients and kitchen utensils to never be without. Brings your Q’s, I’ll have the A’s! Click HERE to sign up.