We’re one March later from this post in which I wrote about my cooking and grocery shopping habits. It’s a good time for a review.
What did I want to change?
Goal: to give organic vegetable deliveries a try.
This was a disaster. Encouraged by my friend Aga, I started ordering vegetables from Abel and Cole. It lasted a couple of months before I got fed up with the whole procedure. Firstly, I kept forgetting about their deadlines (despite their email reminders). It was just another thing to remember and another thing I failed to add to my weekly mental check list. Consequences? I always ended up with potatoes and stuff I didn’t know what to use for (red carrots anybody?). Abel and Cole has a set list of vegetables every week and you need to adjust it if you have preferences. But the trick is this: you tick a product you don’t like and then get something else instead. What else? You find out on the day your box is delivered. You don’t like the replacement? Tough luck. I had a problem with this system. It didn’t work for me at all. I stopped the deliveries after third or fourth unused bag of potatoes.
Goal: monthly shop at a farmers’ market
The Brockley Market I mentioned in my last year’s post was too far of course. Luckily, a new farmers’ market was opened nearby and it had more produce and hardly any street food on offer – great! It stopped for the winter months and, after my vegetable box delivery trial, I didn’t have much chance to visit it on a regular basis. But no more excuses, spring is on its way and we’ve already paid the Horniman farmers’ Market a visit. The goal is still on!
Goal: make and freeze stocks.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the evidence: I made plenty of vegetable stock last year. It made perfect sense and I was pleased to use up all vegetables that would have been stuck in the fridge forever otherwise. I did not make any fish stock but don’t remember needing any either.
Not bad and not great. I’m pleased with the fact I’ve tried different things but not so happy that these things didn’t work out as I hoped they would.
But there have been changes, too.
My new approach to cooking? Spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.
Christmas, holidays and dinners with friends are the only times when kitchen becomes my castle. I can and do spend hours preparing food then, and I enjoy it. At other times? I don’t.
A – I hate cooking when it’s dark outside. Artificial light simply doesn’t cut it for me. B – I have better things to do than cook every day. Not a fan of take aways, not wealthy or convinced enough to eat out every night – what do I do? I cook all my weekday meals at one go and freeze them.
This is something I observed years back, while working with African and Asian colleagues: they had the food for lunch every day (usually rice with curry or rice with chicken). Simple.
I have many years of cooked lunches, even if this means leftovers, behind me so decided it was time to do something similar with weekday dinners.
Freezer filled with homemade ready meals.
Maximum time spent preparing dishes on 1 day + cleaning afterwards: 5 hours (meals for 2 weeks of weekday dinners)
Maximum time spent preparing + cooking + cleaning after dinner daily: less than 15 minutes.
Number of who’s-cooking-tonight arguments: 0
This is something I tested every month this year (despite the fact that I was in between contracts for a while and could have easily spent more time in the kitchen). Every time, the hassle and time I saved me and Karol was worth the initial effort. Cleaning the kitchen after one long cooking session is much easier than after daily evening struggles. It’s also the best and tastiest method I’ve ever tried to stay away from emergency take aways.
If your priority is to enjoy cooking and eat as fresh food as possible – then this approach is no good. But if, like me, you’re fine with fewer nutrients and more time instead, then I suggest you give this idea a go.
I’ll share some recipes I use for my freezable dinners soon.