It may feel free and spontaneous to come home and let the cupboard speak to you, but most of the time, it's got nothing much to say. Then what happens? It's the takeout menu, the chinese food delivery, or a quick run to the store for prepared food.
Quality cooking time can feel like a luxury you can't afford, but if you make a plan weighing the costs against the benefit of free time to cook, there's a way to make it work. Fair warning, this plan is basically not really a plan as much as lifestyle adjustments around food...you could use the time you save to do almost anything.
1. Buy Lunch
It may be counter intuitive on a blog dedicated to quality eats, but seriously, do you have time to make lunch every day? I don't. Sock away the time you save for making relaxing meal at the end of the day. And there are mor benefits: buying lunch gives you an excuse to walk, the chance for variety, and makes cooking for fun at home feel much less like work. If you're budget conscious, follow number 5 and plan in a couple of lunches a week.
2. Learn to Love the Cardio Machine Everyone Else Hates
You work out to be able to eat what you want, right? Maybe that's not a totally healthy attitude toward fitness, but am I far wrong? You'd be amazed how much time you save by loving that sad machine nobody else wants. Think of it as cuts and do your workout already. You'll never have to wait, and trust me, your heart rate will go just as high.
3. Shop Like a Librarian
I know you're not a list person, but just add a little discipline to your process and make one for shopping. You'd be amazed how much time you can save by eliminating just one trip to the store every week. By the time you're done getting there, buying, paying, getting home and unpacking it's at least an hour. So keep a pad of paper and one of those half-pencils in the kitchen, and make a list as you go.
4. Get a CSA Box
First, a CSA is Community Supported Agriculture box of produce delivered once a week to a neighborhood spot near you. You'll not only feel good about the organic, lovingly raised produce you're eating, it's delivered! So you want to save time on shopping and figuring out what to eat? Let the box be your guide. And let the spoiling, overabundant produce be the necessity that spawns inventive, just in time cookery. Every meal's a nail biter.
5. Be Open to Leftovers...In fact, Plan Them
There's no shame in eating day old food. Go ahead and make extra pasta, dose the spare noodles with olive oil and refrigerate. On day 2, repurpose with feta, black olives, chopped organic CSA tomatoes (or whatever you've got that you can quickly blanch and chop) and fresh ground pepper. Ya, it's pasta salad, but it's quick, delicious, and it's ok to slide the scale toward efficiency once in a while.
6. Don't Skimp on Prepared Food
You may think prepared food is for sissies, but when used judiciously, it can pump up a meal from flat to phat in next to no time. Buy a few grilled prawns, your baby greens mix will love you fot it. If you're not into paying your hard earned cash for a grilled chicken breast, be your own prepared food provider by following number 5 and making extra to fuel the next couple of meals.
6.5 Buy Wine by the Case
If you find a wine you like with what you're likely to eat on a week by week basis, buy a case and stop wringing your hands over how many other wines are out there. It may feel painful to drop a hundred and something at the wine shop, but if you add up the cost of sourcing and choosing individual bottles, it's a lot. For your weeknight ham sandwich wine, you're better off finding a reliable go-to. If you don't drink wine, rejoice, you've already saved yourself hours and hours.