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Recipe revelations: 8 ideas towards easy, plentiful eating

Not surprisingly, you are all amazing.

I have been inundated in the best possible way with recipes and food planning tips since my recipe plea. I needed ideas for easy meals that  produce a lot of food for leftovers or freezing. Boy did you deliver. Lo and behold, such recipes exist and I have you to thank for a week of much better eating around here. The first and most helpful piece of advice that I got from my friend C?

1) Do a huge shop every 2 weeks or so.

I think I’ve been teetering on the edge of this since J officially entered the ranks of 3 year olds who eat entire meals. I’m still living in the past, as is the destiny of parents everywhere, and clinging to the idea that I can still feed him off of my plate. This, sadly, is not true, since he can and does easily polish off 4 bananas in one sitting at just about any time of day. So last time I went to the store, I bought 2 dozen eggs, 2 tubs of yogurt–essentially twice the amount of the things that I’ve been buying for my entire adult life. The result: we have food in our refrigerator for longer than 5 minutes. And I feel less resentful when I open the fridge before bed, desperate for protein, and find that all appealing options have been scavenged by the two men in my life.

2) Stock up on ingredients for high-protein snacks.

I found this list of snack ideas in a moment of internet desperation. Protein-Shake_LG_604
Some of the stuff was pretty basic, but there were some good ones–I have been especially loving smoothie #13, and I like it best with almond butter.

3) Make lots and freeze.

  • From E: Black bean sweet potato burritos
  • From S and C and r: Make a lot of soup and freeze it. (This was a revelation, since I often do make a lot of soup, and then we all go on strike on day 3 and I find myself leaving little tubs of the stuff on our neighbors’ doorsteps.)

4) Make lots and eat for days.

  • From r: “Roasted vegetables! You just have to cut them up, drizzle in olive oil, season, and stick them in the oven. Turn half way through.”
  • Anna: “Cook a load of cous cous (soaked it veg stock so it tastes of something already), chop up ( nice and chunky) a red onion, pepper, fennel( essential in my opinion), courgette and roast for about 20 mins, then for the final 5 mins chuck in chopped chilli and garlic ( plenty of) cherry toms and crumbled feta. Mix with all roasted goodies with cous cous and mix together with a dressing consisting of olive oil, whole grain mustard, lemon juice and loads of seasoning. Eat it warm and fresh then stick it in the fridge and it makes good cold lunches for a few days. Yum yum pigs bum.”
  • From me! Lentil feta tabbouleh (I make at least a double recipe and it’s also great with quinoa instead of bulghur wheat)

5) Pick recipes that are easy to throw together quickly:

  • From Laura: “Tilapia filets cooked in a skillet with Frontera sauce for fish and served over rice. Grab some salad from a bulk mix, toss it with some olive oil and soy sauce and BOOM, dinner.”
  • and Laura again: Noodles with broccoli and white beans
  • From S: Bibimbap–its a traditional Korean dish.bibimbap10 “Make a big pot of rice and toss with sesame oil (& toasted sesame seeds are good). Saute protein (tofu, beef, chicken). Add veggies: greens, mushrooms, carrots in vinegar. Last minute, fry and egg and throw on top. Eat with soy and spicy sauce.”

6) From my dear friend MM: “Here’s my two cents on cooking ahead. CROCK POT!”

7) Prepare certain ingredients in advance to throw into future meals.

  • From Shanyn: “For example, make a big batch of your favorite grain on the weekend when you have the time and then you can morph that grain into several meals just by adding a protein and veggie/fruit.”
  • From S and J: Make a huge batch of beans or lentils to freeze or add to multiple meals all week.

8) Ask for help when you need it.

Putting out the call to all of you was the single most helpful thing I did to improve our food reality. It made me feel less alone, impressed with your resourcefulness and lovingly envious of the beautiful meals you feast on with the ones you love. It also reminded me that I do have recipes I love and ways that I tend to cook, and that sometimes I go into lock-down mode because there is simply too much going on. Having some compassion and understanding for that topped off with some very practical help from a bunch of kick ass people–well, that is a recipe we should all keep around.

Small victories and a recipe request

Things are coming along around here.

We have a dining room that is reasonably apportioned.

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Our towels and sheets have their own shelves in a linen closet!

Various things like tea and lentils and potato peelers are starting to be organized, and sometimes I open the right drawer or cabinet on the first try.

These are the victories of moving.

The pregnancy rolls along. This baby is a thumper. And for the first time in the past couple of weeks, strangers are asking when I’m due. I love that. Really. It’s so affirming to get outside recognition for the fact that I really am, all day every day, growing and carrying another person.

I’ve had an inspiring freelance video project to work on. Have I mentioned that I’m a video director and editor and that I love it? Well, I am. And I do. Especially when, as happened this morning, I open my email to see if my client received the revised cut of the video I sent, and see these replies:

Oh my god!!, it’s soooooo gooood!
O my gosh, it made me cry!
You’re wonderful!

What a gift it was to get these notes. The uplift of that affirmation is stunning, as I wade through the daily overwhelm of being J’s mother, moving into the first house we’ve ever owned, trying to find renters for our back house, (Did I mention we bought a duplex? Well, we did. And 2 weeks ago our renters gave notice.) and then try to carve out 15 hours of work a week towards a video deadline. There are times in the last week when I’ve wondered if it’s worth it–when there’s no food ready or even prepped for dinner at 7 pm, when I have to field renters stopping by and husbands staying home sick in the midst of my “focussed work time,” that blessed 4 hour window of paid childcare.

Sometimes, the demands of my life press in so close and heavy that even the smallest movement requires a huge grunt of strength and motivation.

So it’s particularly rejuvenating under those conditions to be able to accomplish something, from start to finish, to have it be valued and to get paid for it. Chalk one up in the victory column.

And now, I need some help. In the midst of this home-owning, landlording, pre-natal, part-time work blur, I’ve been lamenting how challenging it is to buy and make enough food for 3 people every day. Apparently, I need to start buying those industrial size tubs of yogurt and 2 dozen eggs at a time. And I could also start thinking about dinner before its 6pm. Perhaps I could even talk with A about some sort of dinner or shopping schedule in which he reliably participates. These are all reasonable ideas.

Today, I took some time to go through a decades worth of crumpled, food-stained recipes I’ve torn out of magazines. I methodically reviewed, cut out, taped them onto recipe cards and filed them away. Part of me wondered if I’d be better off taking pictures and making a file on my computer. But there is something romantic and simple about having a recipe card on the counter, collecting dribbles of sauce and flour over the course of an evening in the kitchen.

As I looked through my newly fluffed collection of recipes just now, I realize that I want more options for things that I can make heaps of and have stashed away in the fridge so I’m not just eating granola all day long.

This is where you come in: what are the recipes you go back to, again and again, when you know its a crazy week ahead and you need to whip up a whole bunch of something and eat off of it happily all week?

Thank you in advance!