In our culture today convenience has become the ultimate driving factor in a world of instant gratification. Thanks to technology, access to anything seems to be at our fingertips. There are apps for delivery, yoga, meditation, and even things like Apple Pay (because one can’t be bothered to swipe their actual card from their wallet). At the same time, our consciousness for many of us is becoming heightened when it comes to the information about what we eat and drink. So as we start to treat food more like an investment in our health and as a valued experience how can we be mindful without sacrificing precious convenience?
(Disclaimer: I am the worst weekly meal planner out there, but I believe in simple, delicious recipes and the positive power of the expeience of food.)Stop buying more than one protein you’re going to throw in the freezer!
1.Stop buying more than one protein you’re going to throw in the freezer!
With the popularity of Sam’s Club and Costco we’ve become firmly instilled with the belief that “more is better!” More quantity, larger portions either way we’re saving money! Yea, right and promoting food waste, obesity, and lining the pockets of these corporations increasing their margins high above the inherent cost they pass along to us the communal stakeholders. Also folks I know lately the world may feel daunting, but the rapture is not upon us. It’s no wonder when you open the freezer of a baby boomer, there’s a strong likelihood that it will be full of valuepaks of chicken breasts for a rainy day. Instead of perpetuating this idiocy why not think about what you actually like and want to eat? So let’s put down those magical tubes of beefy mush, buy in necessary quantities from local producers, and start putting the Wendy’s (ironic)”fresh, never frozen” motto to work in your own life! Find a local farmer, food aggregator (Marrow Market) or butcher and buy local!
2. Balance in everything!
Whether you follow the colors of the rainbow approach or have your own meal plan full of variety-just as in life balance is key. Too much of a good thing is exactly that, too much. Trying new things can be daunting, especially if you’ve never cooked them before. Just because that kale is on sale and you’ve heard it’s the ultimate approachable superfood don’t go hog wild. One easy way to find some balance and not set your self up for disappointment is to pair opposites; have a little sweet with your savory and spicy with your salty. Pairing uncommon flavors can also help you make sure you’re getting a healthy dose of vitamins and keep your diet nutrient dense, yet balanced. (P.S. It’s also ok to have a cheat day and smash a donut or three once in a while.)
3. Put the phone down! (Unless you’re reading a recipe)
This may be the hardest thing to do in our culture, where we’re always connected and our newsfeeds are piling up. But why not take a break, unplug and enjoy the experience of cooking then sharing the literal fruits of your labor? One of my favorite quotes regarding the time and convenience of cooking comes from Chef Bill Telepan, “When people tell me they don’t have time to cook dinner, I ask them what else are you doing watching TV?” Unfortunately, we’ve deprioritized food replacing it with the newest episodes of network nonsense or Twitter quips. All of this being said there are incredible resources for recipes and flavor ideas at our fingertips we can use to enhance our cooking and even become more efficient in the kitchen. Some of these apps like Healthy Recipes and Handpick Recipes & Ingredients even let you enter dietary considerations and ingredients you already have on hand to create recipes!
4. Learn to cook like the French!
Now this may seem contradictory or ironic considering a few of the above points, but I’m talking about old style french not the bastardized filet & lobster our American palettes are familiar with. Cooking like the French means utilizing every part of produce and protein to stock your pantry and fridge with staples. Winter is just around the corner and one of the easiest ways to start putting this into practice is by making stock for soup! Any bones or produce scraps can be repurposed into a rich delicious soup base you can freeze and use anytime you want to make a hearty soul-warming stew. You don’t have to be a Bourdain or Ruhlman to make this happen, although their tips and tricks are always good to have on hand :Ruhlman Chicken Stock Recipe . So save those bones, skins, and stems and put them to good use!
5. Invest in good tools!
This isn’t a necessity, although it will certainly make all of the above more fun and easy. Because who doesn’t like to get new toys? A solid kitchen knife is the foundation of a great set of kitchen tools and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Be sure to keep it sharp and please, please, please never run it through the dishwasher! Another great tool that will make your life easier and cooking more fun is an emulsion blender. These hand blenders can be used to whip up everything from heavy cream to pancake batter! They also make blending soups much easier without the mess of transferring from pot to blender and back. One of my personal favorites to make with the emulsifier is Caesar dressing from scratch-there simply is no better! Of course, there are tons of kitschy gadgets out there that will claim to simplify cooking, so use your better judgment to avoid these infomercial imposters. I am a firm believer that a good chef’s knife and emulsifier can get you just about anywhere in the kitchen until you’re ready to commit to torches and the slippery slope of créme brulé!