One of the reasons people give the most often, when I mention making all my own food from scratch, is that they do not have time to cook. I say you don’t have time not to!
Let me explain that.. Not eating correctly and truly nourishing yourself means not having as much energy, not sleeping as well, not having the mental acuity and emotional poise that reflects great health. You will get sick more often, experience colds and allergies more often, you will gain weight, be tired…all the things that most of my clients tell me they experience.. that people think are normal as we mature!
Eat better gives you great health and high energy. This save saves lot of time! You will wake up early, raring to go, have high playful energy all day, have the energy to exercise and then sleep well at night. Since radically changing my diet 29 years ago, becoming truly well nourished I wake up raring to go on about 6 to 7 hours sleep.
Getting up early means sipping tea of coffee as the sun comes up, enjoying the morning as I start work, without rushing. Plenty of time to cook breakfast. I turn the pan on, shower, cook bacon while getting dressed. Then eggs, cut up an avocado maybe, or get some coconut milk yogurt I made over the weekend. Sit and eat breakfast while reading. Off and running for the day, or gardening…I stop for lunch about 2-is. Whatever I made for dinner the evening before; or some roasted chicken. With some leftover greens and sliced tomato. Dinner will be a steak, roasted chicken, salmon, whatever I have or have defrosted fro dinner. It doesn’t have to be ornate.
Making all my own food from scratch and hardly ever eating out means I have to stay organized. But feeling WAY better through making ME a priority allows me to feel great all the time. never run out of energy.
I few things you can do that help get through the week;
It takes a little planning ahead, but that allows you to eat well all week and actually feel great…
Sunday Is Not a Day of Rest
If you are going to cook dinner every day of the week, you will have to do most of your shopping and some preparing ahead of time. This is particularly the case if you have a very busy schedule.
Yes, this means planning menus for the week. Don’t wince. This is good. It means freedom from the painfully frequent question, “What are we going to eat tonight?” By Sunday, you will know.
Getting some meals ready ahead of time makes sense for people who like to cook, because weekend preparation can be as languorous as you allow.
In spring and summer, when I want to go dancing, or am swamped at work…or my herb garden calls for fussing, I keep it simple. Advance work might include buying the ingredients for a composed salad and chopping and roasting whatever can be done ahead of time without sacrificing freshness. I might use the most basic techniques: steaming artichokes, for example, instead of braising them.
In winter, depending on my mood, I could make a chuck roast in wine and herbs (10 minutes of browning and stirring, three hours in the oven) instead of concocting a stew that demands that the meat be cubed, floured and browned and copious vegetables be diced. Or, I could do just the reverse.
As often as not, I don’t cook the food right away but prepare it for the moment it is to be popped into the oven. For food that looks great and entices children, I find it is easy to stuff a flank steak or chicken breasts ahead of time, secure them with twine, wrap them well and just roast them when I walk in the door.
Whatever the season, my habit is to get at least two meals done on Sunday. For at least one of these meals I make a double portion and freeze half to serve a week from the coming Tuesday. Among my standbys are stews (chicken and vegetable, or beef), Chicken breast; grilled or pan seared, fish cakes, pesto (in ice cube trays) and soups, especially lentil-vegetable, minestrone and butternut squash.
If you are disciplined, shopping and cooking (not including time in the oven) can be kept to two hours on Sunday, setting you up for dinners through Tuesday.
Also, make salad dressings and mayonnaise for the week; they only take 5 minutes apiece as most of the work is in the blender or food processor.
The Foods of My GrandMother
As a child, in my grandmother’s house, there was always a leftover roast chicken, meatloaf or pot roast in our refrigerator. Always. The reliability of these offerings was something of a joke among my friends, but they did end up in my kitchen stuffing themselves after every school event. Who could blame them? Even today few foods are more satisfying than my grandmothers warmed brisket!
Naturally, when I began to cook I disdained such pedestrian offerings or reconfigured them to epicurean standards.
I have now come full circle, and appreciate the genius of my grandmother’s approach. I have four core dishes: marinated flank steak, pot roast, roast chicken and chicken stew. I could now do each of these dishes in my sleep. Perhaps I have. My basic roast chicken is covered in butter and sprinkled with kosher salt and paprika, pepper and that’s that.
Every week I make at least one of those dishes and leave it in the back of the fridge to do emergency duty. And like a great friend, it never fails me in a crisis.
Perhaps by now you have noticed we are not all the way through the week. I’ve helped you plan Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. If you’ve done your job well, Thursday will be leftovers night. On Saturday everybody’s eating Friday nights leftovers.
But what about Wednesday?
This is why you must memorize five or six dishes that can be prepared in a snap. If you use only one a week, say on Wednesday, they will not get old or tired.
As someone who watches carbs, I make here a painful admission: baked sweet potatoes are the best bet. I can use stocks or leftover soups on them; baked or mashed. Olives, sautéed red peppers and onions are favorite additions. My older daughter is partial to potatoes carbonara with turkey bacon and eggs.
Quickly seared meats like lamb chops, seafood and thin steaks are satisfying (cooked with little more than butter, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a few seasoning) and just right over spicy prewashed greens and served with a sweet potato (pop that in the oven the minute you walk in the door). (Children may omit greens and go straight for the baby carrots.) The trick for flavor here is a salad dressing with an extra twist, like puréed sun-dried tomatoes or chipotle peppers. The dressing, of course, is the ones you made ahead, on Sunday.
Fast vegetables are also important. Asparagus can be tossed with coconut oil and roasted in seven minutes. Prewashed baby spinach can be tossed in the wok and on the table in about as much time. Shredded coleslaw or broccoli stem mix from bags can be assembled in under five (remember that mayo you made Sunday??)
See it is possible!!