Cooking · Tips

Finding Time for Cooking

One challenge many of us have is finding the time in our busy lives for home cooking.  It isn’t necessarily that we don’t have the time, it’s just that we aren’t used to devoting a portion of it to cooking.  When I first started making an effort to cook more often, I would tell myself  “If I have time to watch television and surf the internet, I have time to cook.”  Yes, I do have a full time job that often requires me to work many more than 40 hours a week.  Yes, I have a commitment to myself to exercise 5-6 days a week.  And yes, I like television and surfing the internet.  But I also like feeling good and having a healthy body.  I know the best way to control what goes into my body is to prepare it myself.  I moved cooking close to the top of my priority list, right below exercise.

I have found many ways to make cooking work in my life without a ton of hassle.  My goal is to cook all my meals except one lunch and one dinner a week.  So I’m always planning a few days ahead whether it’s preparing extra portions to take to work for lunch or saving leftovers to turn into other dishes.

I’m also trying to make the most delicious, healthy, satisfying meals I possibly can.  I think a lot of times, we think cooking has to be a time consuming ordeal, but I’ve found many ways to shorten the time while increasing the flavor.  This year, on this blog I plan to share real life examples of how I cook for myself in the hopes that it will help inspire some of my readers to venture into new cooking territory.

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On Saturday, I made a veggie pizza for dinner.  I found myself standing in my kitchen with my iphone googling “how long does home-made pesto keep?”  I have to tell you, when people say they can’t cook, I think “But you have the internet!”  All the answers are right here.

Tip: When in doubt, Google.

Turns out home-made pesto can keep for weeks if you float a bit of extra oil on top.  So instead of making just enough to top the pizza, I made a bunch of it.  This week will be the Week of Walnut Pesto.

Home-made walnut pesto

I won’t pretend I measured anything to make this.  In a food processor:

  • Chop a handful of walnuts
  • add all the leaves from one of those live basil plants from the grocery store, 4 cloves of garlic, 3-4 tbsp of walnut oil (or olive oil), salt, grated parmesan.
  • Chop until desired texture.  Pause and scrape down the sides if necessary.

I used a few tablespoons for my pizza and saved the rest.  The above photo was taken Monday and as you can see, the basil is still beautiful and green.

Tip: To save pesto, float a little extra oil on top before storing in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, I have some leftover brown rice in the refrigerator from a meal I cooked last week.  Rice is a great thing to keep and use again.  Since the cooking time is kind of long (45 min to 1 hour), I usually make double what I plan on eating.

Tip: When cooking something that takes time and stores well, like rice, consider making extra and storing it for another meal.  This will save time in the future.

Monday is my Body Pump class from 6:30-7:30.  I got home from work at 5:15.  Here’s how I had a great home-cooked meal by 8:20 with very little effort.

  • 5:15 get home from work and kiss my sweetie
  • 5:20 prep tofu for later by draining water, cubing, and marinating in soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, minced garlic, lime juice and sesame oil.
  • 5:35 get ready for gym
  • 5:45 leave for gym
  • 6:00 cardio (the gym is SO packed on Jan 3)
  • 6:30-7:30 Body Pump (Awesome!)
  • 7:45 arrive home
  • 7:50 in a baking dish, combine Tofu and left over rice along with additional marinade and one sliced onion.  Stir and put in oven for 20 min @ 375 degrees
  • 7:50-8:10 Change clothes, chit chat with boyfriend
  • 8:10 remove dish from oven, stir and put back in.  Boil water and steam broccoli.
  • 8:15 (I considered just eating the broccoli plain, but decided to take the extra 5 minutes and make it something Va-Va-Voom) drain broccoli.  In same pot, add a bit of oil, 2 tbsp of aforementioned Walnut Pesto, and a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Add the brocoli back in, stir around for a bit (1-2 minutes) and serve.

It was delightful, and not much effort considering the resulting flavor.

Flavorful dinner!
  • 8:30: Plenty of time left for television and internet!

2 thoughts on “Finding Time for Cooking

  1. I am a huge proponent of cooking. First, I actually really like to cook, and second, I like what I make and that I know it’s healthy, good for you food for me and my family. I have a big standing freezer and I pack that thing with homemade food that makes making most dinners a lot easier for my husband. I call it cooking for the freezer and make a ton of homemade soup, spaghetti sauce, chili, lasagna, and other freezer friendly food. I freeze berries in season (we live in PNW where they’re plentiful) so we can eat them in the winter. I make fresh fruit sorbet so we can have “good for you” treats. Yes, we still have to plan and buy fresh veg / fruit to go with the mains that are in the freezer, but it makes our lives a lot easier, a lot healthier, and also a lot less expensive. Our easy pizzas? Whole wheat pita bread, homemade pizza sauce (from the freezer) topped with veg and cheese and baked at 400 degrees for 11 minutes. Easy dinner or lunch that’s a lot better for you than take out pizza (and cheaper).

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