8 Weeks. 8 loooong weeks. That is how long I’ve had either a cast or some sort of splint on my right hand. Considering that I am right hand dominant it has really put a damper in many things of the day to day things I need to do. Writing is very difficult and hardly legible. I can type okay now that I have a ‘typing friendly’ splint. But the biggest challenge has been my kitchen activities. I can’t work a knife so chopping is very difficult. For the few canned items we use, the can opener is a huge challenge. Even removing hot dishes from the oven is iffy since I lack the strength to safely pull them out. Keeping it simple in the kitchen has been my motto for sometime but has become extremely important over these past two months. Here are my 7 favorite tips.
1. Plan your menu
You might know that I have
an obsession with a passion for menu planning. I function much better with a plan in place. This plan also helps me with my kitchen time. I can look at my plan and know that I need to take something out of the freezer or start the crock pot by a certain time. It also allows me to utilize tips 2-6 below.
2. Do the work in advance
Cooking things ahead of time makes my life easier! Joe has been acting as sous chef for me while my hand is out of commission. With our menu plan in place we’ll do a big cook up on Sunday afternoon and prepare meats and veggies in advance. They are stored in the fridge and then I can simply reheat and flavor as needed at meal time. Read more about this concept from Melissa at The Clothes Make the Girl.
3. Enlist help
I enlist help! Not just human help (I do get that) but all kinds of help. My crock pot is one of my favorite helpers. I also love my rice cooker and food processor. By planning menus in advance I plan my meals around how busy the day will be. If I know I have to be out and about late in the afternoon on Tuesday, I’ll plan a meal I can put in the crock pot Tuesday morning.
4. Variety is nice but not always necessary
We tend to have the same things for breakfast each week. Often eggs and toast or oatmeal. I’m grain-free right now so breakfast is a bit challenging but I still keep it simple. During the winter we also tend to eat the same veggies each week. Cabbage and carrots are cheap so they show up on the menu quite often. I do try to cook them slightly different (without expending too much brain energy coming up with a new recipe) but they are still cabbage and carrots.
5. Cook once, eat twice
This is somewhat like #2 but a little bit different. When I cook a big roast or a pot of beans it becomes more than one meal. I tend to go a little crazy with the beans and make a pot big enough to become three or even four meals. Those are Stretchy Beans. I figure the part that takes time (soaking and cooking) is already done so I might as well take advantage of it. I also stash extra cooked beans and meat in the freezer to have later. You can even do this with entire meals. Jessica from Delicious Obsessions has a great post on batch cooking.
6. Utilize leftovers
If I don’t put something in the freezer to use later, we do our best to keep it front and center in the fridge and eat it up. Front and center is important because if it goes to the back… well, we just call those science experiments. I love glass dishes for leftovers so I can see what is in the container (plus I don’t have to worry about the whole BPA thing). Joe often takes leftovers for lunch or Christopher and I eat them. If I know that my menu plan includes several meals that are likely to have leftovers then we’ll have a leftover night. That might end up being an interesting combo of dishes but that is okay.
7. Have a back up plan
Even with a menu plan in place, I always have a back up plan. This is a list of dishes that I can make on a moments notice (or around 30 minutes). I keep the ingredients on hand for these which is super helpful in allowing us a home cooked meal instead of a take out pizza.
Your turn. What do you do to keep things simple in the kitchen?
Shared at Simple Lives Thursday