Now that I’m in my late 20’s, the cooking complaint I get most from my friends is that they can’t find the time in their busy schedules to make it a daily habit. They have the skill set now, and the money to invest in tricking out their pantry. But time still seems to stand in the way.
Even though I primarily work from home and spend a good chunk of the day cooking for a living, I still find myself up against these same challenges. When you’re running around like a mad woman, it becomes too easy to justify a seamless web order just so you have one less thing on your plate to worry about.
What people don’t realize, and what I often forget, is that cooking is a habit-forming activity – not at all unlike the gym. The difference is, unlike exercise, there are strategies that allow us to concentrate our cooking workout into one big chunk of time so we can let our bodies enjoy the fruits of our labor for the rest of the week.
I usually reserve Sunday nights for “me time” and that’s when I do the majority of my food prepping for the week. It’s a great way to decompress and dedicate some time to yourself, even if that time also includes marathons of your favorite bad TV show and/or singing along to Cowgirl Kiss-Off’s on songza.
In the spirit of my Wellness Wednesday chat this week with Laurie David, and all of her great strategies for making home cooking a habit for your family, I’ve put together some of my favorite make-ahead dishes. I’ll be joining Laurie on April 16th at Huffington Post Live for a round table on her Sunday home cooking challenge. More details to come! In the meantime, watch our chat here and get cooking below.
Most salads if dressed in advance turn to sludge. But kale stands up very well to acid, and even tastes better when given time to marinate in fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Make a big batch of this to add to your meals throughout the week and top it with freshly diced avocado.
Any baked pasta or casserole is a great option for make-ahead meals. You can assemble this jalapeno scallion mac ‘n cheese on Sunday and bake it off any night of the week. If it’s just you you’re cooking for, you can divide the mixture between individual ramekins for portion control.
There’s nothing more satisfying that the smell of roasting chicken on a chilly Sunday afternoon. This is also a great technique for adding proteins to your lunch throughout the week. Carve up the bird and use it to top your weekday salads or grains.
Since sausages have a relatively high fat content and are produced in casings, you don’t have to worry as much about them drying out when reheating. That makes this bangers and mash recipe a great option to have on hand for the week. The mash is packed with baby spinach so you don’t even have to worry about making a side salad.
It’s nice to not have to worry where you’re going to get your vegetables for the week. Make a big batch of healthy, gluten-free creamed spinach and add a little bit to each meal.
Breakfast is often a meal that I let go by the wayside. Eggs are too much trouble to cook fresh in the morning. But this frittata still tastes delicious when reheated, and it’s packed with two other breakfast favorites: potatoes and bacon. Cut it into wedges and enjoy before work. You can also stuff a slice of frittata inside a sandwich for lunch.
Stews and soups are perhaps the best make ahead meal, as they only require one pot and keep really well. This tagine is packed with spices and sturdy vegetables. The flavors only get better the longer it sits. Serve it over a simple quinoa or rice.