Cooking at home, home cooking

Cooking Day!: Finally Make Cooking Doable!

This simple tip makes my life a million times easier and is one of my favorites. I employ it weekly.

Cooking at home, home cookingSo often, I hear of families using frozen or “ready” meals because of busy schedules rather than cooking a healthier version at home. Here is your answer to that problem: buy some Pyrex* and learn to use leftovers! This is not a new concept. The new concepts is having a Cooking Day! (I like to give it an exclamation point because it really does become a fun event.) Pick one day, or two if you prefer, a week to cook some staples that you can mix and match the rest of the week. It’s so simple, and if you aren’t saying it already, you’ll be probably saying “why didn’t I think of that?” within the week.

Here are some staples I suggest:

1. Greens: lightly steam or boil some leafy green, such as kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, brussel sprouts, chard, turnip greens, etc. To reheat, simply drop into boiling water for 30 seconds, or lightly saute with garlic and red pepper flakes.

2. Legumes: I suggest using fresh or frozen legumes. Either way, I always blanch them to ensure I’ve boiled off any bacteria, etc (unless using canned, then I just thoroughly wash them. I only use Eden Organic** canned beans). Cook them until they reach your desired consistency, as reheating will not affect this. I love lentils, baby lima beans, great northern beans, kidney beans and green beans. To reheat, return to pot on medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

3. Protein: I usually boil a dozen eggs once a week. If you are vegan, you can prepare seitan or tempeh the way you prefer it (marinated, grilled, etc). I also have clients who cook a few breasts of chicken and/or lean red meat. I suggest doing this twice a week rather than just once so as to not be eating grilled chicken that is 5 days old.

4. Grain: I cook either a few cups of either brown rice or quinoa each week. To reheat, return to pot with a bit of excess water, and cook on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.

5. Veggies: These are more of a prep item than a pre-cooked item. If you already have that onion chopped and bell pepper sliced, you are much more likely to throw it in a wok. Generally, I prepare a handful of veggies based on what I use the most consistently and what is in season.

6. Fruit: This is more for parents with children who need their fruit cut. I basically grab a piece of fruit or handful of berries and eat them – but if you prefer your apple sliced, do it on your Cook Day! and squeeze a bit of lemon on it and keep it sealed.

Then what?

Throw it all together! Mix it up! Make a great stir-fry; Have beans and rice topped with salsa; Take 8 minutes to pan-sear fish and put it over the grain with a side of veggies; Make a yummy chef’s salad; Create a (whole wheat) pita sandwich. There are so many choices, and they’ll all be fast, because you’ve already done the hard work. Inevitably, there will be at least one day that you are cooking something new, but use that day to do a slow cook chili or stew! Once you’ve done this for 2-4 weeks, you’ll have a feel for what you and/or your family needs out of your Cooking Day, and your life will be so much easier – and healthier! You’d be shocked to see the difference in fat, sodium, and calorie intake in prepared meals versus home-cooked!

*Storing food in glass is far superior to plastic because of chemicals that leach into your food. Especially upon reheating! This Pyrex set is the one I use because of the no-leak BPA-free lids. But, more on that another day…

**The only canned beans I use are Eden Organic beans because the ingredients list only includes the beans, water, and sometimes salt and seaweed. The seaweed helps with flatulence, but does not change the taste and I rarely see any in the can itself. And, unlike most canned goods, these are BPA-free… but, more on that another day.

Please leave comments below on what you prepare on your Cooking Day!

Happy Cooking!


6 thoughts on “Cooking Day!: Finally Make Cooking Doable!

  1. Pamela McLellan says:

    Thanks for the tips, Monica! I’ve been meaning to keep a few boiled eggs in the fridge. How easy would it be to grab one when I need a fast, easy, healthy protein boost to keep up with my kiddos?!

    I’ve been implementing a pseudo-cooking day lately as well. I’ve started baking homemade whole wheat bread to use for our sandwiches. I LOVE knowing what’s going in our bread. NO high fructose corn syrup, no refined sugars, no excess butter… and it’s really not that hard! I’ve also been preparing whole organic chickens in the crock-pot, de-boning and then chopping/shredding/etc for whatever recipes we’re having that week. Then If freeze the rest! I also go ahead and chop whatever veggies we’re needing for the week. If I can get the prep work done (usually during the weekend while the hubby’s here to monitor the kiddos) in advance, my week night meals are so much quicker, more enjoyable, and stress free! Woo-hoo! The hubby and I have also come to value the quality conversations that we have while I knead, chop and bake. Aaaaaah, the balance and happiness that my cooking day brings me. 🙂

    • Monica says:

      Yay! So, you already have a very successful cooking day! I really appreciate the added verification that this makes a huge difference. I especially like your mention of balance and good conversations with the hubby part. I’m generally cooking alone and find the time therapeutic. There’s something wonderful about working with your hands and creating something. Maybe it’s the artist in me? Thank you for the comment and the inspiration for those out there that haven’t done this yet!…. OH! And another thing I do boiled-eggs-wise: deviled eggs! I use a vinegar-based dressing instead of mayo, and decrease a bit of the yolk, so they’re similar in calories and often way more interesting!

  2. Betty says:

    I have experienced this first hand while Monica has been home. Not only is it healthier and time-saving, but it is also yummy.

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