Cooking Templates

via Jezebel – Resolved: Eat Better, Not Less, for a Healthier Diet Jezebel’s article on healthy eating covers an approach that I’ve heard from many of my thin friends:

What you need are a few core recipes that you’re good at, or can get good at, that can be adapted for almost any combination of ingredients. You probably already know them–they’re the safety recipes you go to when you’re cooking for other people, and you want guaranteed success. In my household, it’s a chicken with Thai basil stir-fry (despite almost never having actual Thai basil), a recipe for stuffed peppers, and a few different ways of making thin white fish: broiled with butter or oil, pan-fried with a coating of flour mixed with spices, and cooking en papillote, or wrapped in tinfoil or wax paper.

Mark Bittman recommends three more “core” recipes, which have the added benefit of being very sustainable for the Earth and healthy: a broccoli/chicken/mushroom stir-fry, a chopped cabbage salad, and a lentil/rice boil with pork as an optional add-in. The Boston Globe has a few more. They work the same way my own recipes work: when you’re missing something, throw something else in. By making the basic version a few times, you learn how the dish should come together, how to use your knife or food processor to prep the ingredients, and what kinds of cook times you should expect. At that point, the proteins, beans, vegetables, rice, leafy greens, and other ingredients all become plug-and-play elements.

You’re no longer beholden to everything–time, ingredients, recipe, and mood–falling into place. You can just cook with what you’ve got, and be assured that the results are pretty good. Save the Martha-impressing recipes for when you’ve got a Saturday night off.

I’m going to spend some time putting some ideas like this together with Stephanie, because this tends to be where we scramble to get stuff made before it goes bad, rather than having a plan and throwing in whatever ingredients.

And some other ideas blatantly copied from the comments:

My favorite go-to quick dinners: Sauteed cherry tomatoes, spinach, and feta over whole what pasta. Sautee the veggies with some garlic, toss in cheese, throw over pasta. Mozzarella or parmesean or peccorino work well if you don’t have feta around.
Also my “fiesta bowl” Brown rice (I usually cook a bunch at once and keep it in the fridge-it keeps for a good two weeks with canned beans, salsa, and whatever else you have on hand-chicken, beef, cheese, peppers, broccoli Both require 1 pot and 1 pan, and if I’m really lazy I just eat it right out of said pot.

-A lentil-potato-coconut-milk curry that probably ends up costing about 60 cents per serve and is super yummy with corriander and yogurt on top.
-Veggie & bean Chilli. I make a huge pot and then use it for nachos, tacos, serve it over rice etc. Sometimes I even wrap it in puff pastry and bake it.
-Colcannon. Kale, onions, garlic and taters on crusty bread with butter. Mega-Irish comfort food.
-Pasta suace with beans and lentils. I can use this sauce for a lasagna with cottage cheese and spinach or chard if I feel like something different.

cooked brown rice tossed with sauteed spinach, sliced sauteed onion (if I have one) and chickpeas. Sometimes I add chopped cherry tomato if I have a few hanging around the fridge. top with 1 fried egg and a spoonful of garlic sriracha. Sometimes, I sub quinoa for the rice. Quantites depend on whether I have company or not.

Posted in Entrees, Recipe Box Tagged with: , , , ,
One comment on “Cooking Templates
  1. lisa says:

    we meal plan *religiously*. every weekend, we plan a week’s worth of meals (including nights out or nights when we get takeout). we use the plan to fill out our grocery shopping list. most of our meal plans revolve around standard meals that we’ve developed like the ones you have above.
    we didn’t meal plan in the beginning and that resulted in distressing grocery store conversations about what we were going to have that week. i do way, way better if i’m not improvising when i’m hungry or shopping.

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