Motivated by hunger, or in preparation of future hunger, into the kitchen we go sifting through the fridge and pantry looking for ingredients and ideas to create a meal or snack. Hurrying to find ingredients, bombarded by distractions, these raw ingredients must now be transformed into something delicious, or at least edible. So where do ideas come from? The simple answer is, they come from everywhere. More specifically they come from our life experiences and knowing what ingredients pair well together (the experience of our taste buds) and knowing a few “time saving” methods and techniques. That is how I prepare recipes and menus, even long before I was a chef. Look for simple ingredients and if there are cooking techniques or something you are unfamiliar with, look to increase that knowledge, but maybe not in the heat of the moment when you’re pressed to put food on the table.
Here’s some helpful ideas for meal planning:
1. Have frozen veggies and fruit available in the freezer. Make sure to rotate stock and use first in items first, so as to avoid freezer burn.
2. Decide in advance which days you plan to cook at home. This can be beneficial in planning and you’ll be in a routine.
3. If using a recipe make sure you read all steps in advance so you know what’s coming.
4. Know which part of your meal will take the longest and prepare that first. For example, baking a chicken will take longer than cooking the pasta.
5. Look for ways to save time. For example, fill your pot with hot water instead of cold water when boiling water. It takes longer to boil cold water than already hot water. Also, another idea to save time is to have all your ingredients chopped, prepared the way needed before you start cooking, because that way the ‘flow’ of cooking won’t be interrupted.