Work/Life Balance

When I lived in NYC, I almost never cooked.  My kitchen was the size of a small closet and I really found eating out to be easier and far more convenient.   My meals choices ran the gamut, some nights I’d have high end takeout from my favorite 5-star Mediterranean spot and other nights I’d grab a salad from the corner deli.  Since being in DC, I haven’t found grabbing takeout to be as simple.  So for the last 6 months, I’ve been devoting time and energy to being a weekday cook (in addition to my weekend spreads).  I’ve developed a few strategies that help me get this done during the week.

  1. Freeze easy-to-thaw meat in 2 person portions and take it out to thaw the night before use.  I usually buy individually frozen chicken tenders, shrimp, scallops, salmon fillets, and boneless skinless chicken thighs from Costco for this purpose.  I separate the meat into 2-person portions, label the freezer bags, and park everything until needed.  I’ve also thawed the meat when I get home from work by continuously running room temperature water over it.
  2. Wash and prep all produce when you buy it.  I store leafy veggies (salad greens, spinach, other greens, herbs) in plastic bags with a paper towel and leave in the fridge until required.  Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, melons, etc. get chopped and placed in airtight plastic containers.
  3. Keep a full pantry of seasonings on hand.  This is immensely helpful when I don’t have fresh herbs on hand.  In addition to dry herbs/spices, I also keep chicken broth, garlic, ginger, and lemons on hand.
  4. Use meats that can take high heat and quick cooking.  No pot roast (unless you use a crock-pot) or other time intensive meats during the week.
  5. Stir fry.  This is by far one of my favorite ways to quickly make a tasty meal AND get enough servings of produce in.
  6. Cook enough for two meals.  I usually cook enough meat for two meals and reuse the meat (in a slightly different preparation) for the next day’s dinner.  For instance, the shrimp in today’s pasta may be the shrimp on top of tomorrow’s salad.
  7. Keep it simple.  No elaborate cooking methods.  No pasta or bread from scratch.  And salads, lots and lots of salads, soups (if quick), beans, sandwiches, etc.

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