Lately I’ve noticed a lot of conversations from friends, family, and social media groups, talking about their struggles in the kitchen. Everything ranging from food waste to lack of inspiration to knowledge on health and nutrition. Basically, as Americans, we’ve over complicated the food world and how we approach cooking and eating. So I want to touch on a couple of points to start helping us all reframe the way we think about food made at home.
Chefs are notoriously unhealthy. We can make great food but because we are always tasting, we just pick at odds and ends, overload on caffeine, and forget to drink water. That is bad. But it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m trying to strip away that mentality now and have pulled out some key points below for home cooks.
- Food Waste: Food waste is real and (I hope) usually unintentional. You go to the grocery store with high hopes of gorgeous gourmet and maybe adventurous meals all week and then somewhere midweek, life gets in the way and you just don’t have the motivation you did when you were drooling over all of the bright fresh produce. Things go bad, you throw them out. That sucks. Not only are you contributing to the problem (sorry, but you are and it is a crisis), you’re wasting money that could be spent on shoes or wine. Or invested into you retirement (that one was for you, Dad.) While we are on this, you should never ever EVER have to buy vegetable stock again. Save your ugly vegetable scraps in a freezer safe bag and when it’s full, put it all in your crockpot, cover with water, and add a little tomato (be it canned, paste, scraps, diced, whatever). Cook it for 8+ hours and strain it into freezer safe containers and thaw as needed. You can even use your first batch of stock as the base for your next batch if you have some leftover by the time you fill the next freezer bag full of veggie scraps and the result is an even more flavorful stock.
- Scarcity Drives Creativity: What I mean by this is having less ingredients to work with not only cuts down on waste and saves your hard-earned money, but it forces creativity and helps begin changing the way you think about food and what you really need to eat. In restaurants, we call this cross-utilization. Start looking at menus when you eat out and see how many different ways they use their ingredients. You don’t need a ton of ingredients in a dish to make it amazing.
- Explore New Cooking Styles: Come on. If you’re on my blog you should realize just how many food blogs, instagram pages, and e-books there are on the internet. Take a look at the #cook90 challenge on Instagram and see how to cross-utilize for a month. Look up plant-based recipe books like My New Roots or Oh She Glows Everyday. By taking the time to poke around here, you’ll see that you can make some crazy good, fast, and simple meals. Good food doesn’t have to be fancy. It does have to be focused. Less ingredients = More focus. You follow?
- Nutrition: I will not pretend to understand nutrition. Adding macros and portions just doesn’t click in my brain. Lucky for you though, my dear friend Lauren D’Errico, is a super real, super cool, personal trainer and Registered Dietician. She is a no b.s. chick and provides invaluable information to help you make healthier lifestyle choices. Check her out here. Seriously, the info on her site is amazing. She does personalized meal plans and exercise routines too if you hire her.
- Think Ahead: If you know you aren’t going to be motivated later in the week to make every part of your meal, make it ahead. I make big batches of brown rice, quinoa, and lentils knowing that I’ll toss them on salads or reheat them as a side to be served with protein or tossed with veggies. Be practical about it but truly, those items keep for a while.
Start with these tips and see what dishes come out as a result. You’ll be surprised at the change in your approach to cooking. I have faith. As always, I’m here to answer questions and provide resources so don’t hesitate to reach out.