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3 Reasons I Cook Only Once a Week

I love to eat, but I don’t love being in the kitchen. Yes, I love trying out new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients, but that’s probably just the adventurer and weird scientist in me. I hate the long standing, the heat from the stove and oven, the constant washing of utensils, the essential prep of the ingredients, or the moments in which the Small, Bright-eyed Human runs in circles around my feet and screams until I pick her up. But, this post isn’t about my ‘laziness’ as much as it is about time management and prioritising.

 

Menu Planning & Batch Cooking

Having transitioned from Homemaker to Employee, I needed to find a way to be present with my daughter for the few hours we are together each day (since she goes to daycare while I teach). But, even more so, I needed to avoid exhaustion while feeding my family hearty and nutritious meals. I remembered how for my CXC practical exam in Food & Nutrition, I was able to make the birthday cake (baked and decorated with freshly made icing), drinks, different types of sandwiches, snacks and fruit table pieces all from scratch and decorate the table in a couple of hours. This is because I had learnt how to make a menu plan and a time plan to make it all work, and I decided to put this aspect of my high school education to use!

What I do is cook all the food my family will eat, once a week (on the weekend) and simply heat and serve throughout the week. It may sound like a lot of work, but I can get 3 or 4 entrees and the same amount of side dishes made in 2 or 3 hours. Which works out to about 3 hours of intense work to cover the whole week, instead of cooking an hour a day, every single day. So, let me give this disclaimer before going any further:

If you are one of those persons who claims, “I don’t eat over-night/hot-up food.” Then I suggest that you don’t read any further. I’ll also recommend that you don’t eat anything you haven’t cooked yourself, because all commercially prepared food involves batch cooking and réchauffé. So, if you eat food from restaurants, hotels, school cafeterias, office canteens, hospitals, or caterers, you have eaten réchauffé or reheated food. The main reason the food looks and tastes differently from what you’ve re-heated at home is because food service operators have been trained to observe industry standards in food safety (sanitation, storage, preservation, time and temperature). I’m grateful to have received the same training when I got my food handler’s permit, but even more so, for having worked in the food service industry to learn, first-hand, about things like ‘food danger zone’.

 

Ital Stew (Photo Credit: JCSKitchen.com)

 

That little issue addressed, these are my reasons – plain and simple – for cooking once a week:

1. Free To Relax
Since I’m away from my family all day, I want to know that I can enjoy the time reconnecting with them when I get home. We can sit together and play, or do any other fun thing together before we settle down for dinner. Plus I don’t need to rush with my daughter when I go to pick her up from the daycare. If she wants to just hug me for a little or wants me to join her with digging up dirt in the yard, I feel comfortable to do that without watching the time.

2. No Extra Work After Work
Since all my meals (lunches and dinners) are already cooked, I don’t need to go grocery shopping or spend time in the kitchen cooking dinner and the next day’s lunch. After work is finished, I can truly come home and de-chakarise.

3. Fancy Dishes Without the Hassle
Who wouldn’t like to eat a fancy, weekend-style meal during the week? Entree with two or three different sides? How about two entrees? I can do that because it’s all made in advance, I just need to heat and serve.

 

Japanese Vegetable Curry & Rice (Photo Credit: BakerBoom.blogspot.com)

 

This Week’s Menu
For this week, I made 3 entrees (Ackee & Mixed Veggies, Japanese Curry with Lentils & Pumpkin, and Ital Stew), and the main starches were Brown Rice, Mushroom Rice (used my rice cooker), Roti and Naan (bought them frozen and put them in the toaster oven before serving). I served these sides as well: Cucumber-Basil Pasta Salad, Garden Salad and another Mushroom Sauce Pasta Salad. It may sound like a lot, but I also bought a deli box (with simmered veggies and tofu skin) from the supermarket, and each day I have a mug of Miso Soup along with my lunch. My game plan for getting this done each week is basically: Plan. Shop. Cook. I give a detailed breakdown in this article that I wrote for Baby & Blog: HERE.

 

Do you plan your meals and do once a week cooking? If you don’t, would you try it?

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The Plant-Based Cooking Demo & Lunch

Having shared with you some of the foods I eat on a regular basis, I found this video of reggae artiste, Macka B, singing about the vegan diet:

I really liked this song because of the variety of foods that Macka B lists and the fact that he displays a wealth of knowledge about proper nutrition and knows what essential nutrients he needs to get from his meals.

For some people, even after watching a video, reading an article or meeting someone who eats plant-based, and being convinced that this is the way to go, they still remain confused about what to eat and how to prepare it. This fact has been displayed in the many requests I have had (emails, SMS, instant messages, in-person) for recipes and, more so, a live demonstration of how I prepare these meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free dishes.

Over time, I soon realised that I had promised quite a few friends that I’d make the time to come by their kitchens and give them a guiding hand in their exploration of the world of plant-based cooking. So, these promises were piling up and my ‘available’ time wasn’t. So, one morning (one of those when your mind is clear and bursting with ideas and strategies), I decided to drop a few lines, inviting a select few – on very short notice – to join me for a plant-based lunch and cooking demo.

Following some initial indications of interest, I scratched out the following menu for our foodie event:

Appetizer
Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Entree
Curried Ackee Wraps

Mini Burgers
Escoveitched Tofu with Bammy
Side
Garden Salad with Tofu Bites
Cool Potato Salad
Dessert
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Soy Ice Cream
Beverage
Pine-Ting Smoothies

Now, I could easily launch my own review of the experience, but my friend, Monique, did a great job in her blog post on IrieDiet.com (I love the fruit and veggie banner that she has!). Please click on the link to share in the event (pics included): Vegetarian for a day….or at least…a meal

All I can say is, everyone had their favourite dishes and I look forward to another demo sometime soon.

Stay Earth Strong!