Kitchens! Is there another room in our homes that pulls at our heart strings more than our kitchens? No matter if we love them, or hate them…we think about them nearly every day. So what can we do to make them look their best?
LET’S COOK IN THEM……
Kitchen renovations are very popular. We help our clients with kitchen concepts and plans often. It is exciting to present ideas that will make their kitchens work their very best. Yet, even as good as we are, short of a full time personal chef, our kitchens have the same problem as our clients. It’s still up to us to do the cooking. Just like everyone else, we want to eat good food that is good for us.
We’ve tried meal planning programs, shopping in bulk, and the opposite, shopping daily. We get motivated, buying fresh fruits and veggies with good intention, only to look at the cantaloupe sit on the counter all week and watch the 2 lbs of grapes turn squishy in the bottom of the bag. The freezer may be full but we forgot to thaw those chops. Even if we did remember, we now have to cook them. But how, and it’s already after 6. So we eat out or have convenience foods that are high in all the baddies…salt, sugar, fats, and loaded with carbs. In other words, TV food.
At first this is funny….but boy, it has stuck with me and is one thing easy to remember. It keeps me motivated to purchase and prepare foods that not only are good for us, taste good, but also look good in our kitchen.
THE WHITE PLATE THEORY
Healthy Foods Look Good On And In White!
READY FOR OUR
5 TIPS ON HOW TO HAVE HEALTHY WEEKNIGHT MEALS WITH LESS EFFORT
HERE’S WHAT IS WORKING FOR US ON THIS MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY!
#1 GET INSPIRED! Coming up with ideas of what to cook is the hardest part. I save photos of food. Just photos. Nothing too complicated but something that makes me say “that looks good” and “I can do that.” I have loads of recipes, but on a weeknight I need ideas I don’t have to think about. I pick 4-5 photos and message them to myself. This is also my quick shopping list at the store.
Here’s a few examples.
We use eggs for dinner almost every week. So many ways to crack an egg! Team our “egg of the week” with a salad and we have a restaurant quality meal.
I keep pancetta cooked and in a jar. Veggies are always better with a bit of flavor. Just a few bits go along way. I cook up a batch when ever we are out. Pair veggies with a nice marinated meat and yum!
Some photos have a catchy idea that is easy to pull off and make me look like a super chef. What a great beach or picnic idea. Cut between the papers and pack it up…even if the picnic is only in the backyard. (Note – we’d sub out the figs for tomatoes and Prosciutto...that flavor thing again.)
I try to choose proteins that are not meat for one night. I don’t stress tho, if I have not found something inspiring vegetarian it’s ok. Our goal is to eat at home without stress.
Sometimes a photo looks so good I know it’s bad! Solution is to sub in healthier options and sauces and have the appetizers be the meal.
# 2 SHOP AND PREP BACK TO BACK
BE YOUR OWN
Some weeks this takes an hour and some weeks several. Regardless, when I plan this time it means 5 days of peace at dinner time when I am frazzled after working all day, or have things yet to do after dinner. For years, I did this on Sunday afternoon and really looked forward to it. Now with Mr. LBD retired and my flexible schedule, we’ve eased up a bit and we may stop and shop after an appointment. I do still have cooking “sessions” tho and seldom cook every day.
For food storage these glass containers work for me. I like seeing all the produce cleaned and ready to use. As we cook during the week, leftovers are visible and easy to see for lunches. Glass can go in the oven or microwave (no lids) safely and I’ve even frozen things in these containers. I like the way they stack in the cabinet and refrigerator. Personally, I think things taste better stored in glass.
Snotty lettuce used to be my nemesis. No more! About a year ago I purchased one of these greens savers and we have not tossed any greenery in the trash since. Some weeks I add in hearty veggies like peppers, radishes, and onions so we have a base for instant salads. Lately we have been having shrimp salads with fresh shrimp done in the microwave with old bay seasoning. For lunch…can you imagine?!
#3 PLAN YOUR VEGGIES – Mixed or individual. Package, season, marinate ready to steam, roast, or boil each meal. In addition to having veggies cut up in containers ready to use, I will preplan veggie packs. It’s too easy to skip veggies without a plan.
Need some “fairly good for you carbs”? Don’t forget the potatoes. How many ways can these be seasoned!
#4 COOK WHILE YOU ARE BUSY – Crock Pot, slow cooker..aren’t they the same? Not any more. New cookers can sear meats, bring soups to a boil, slow cook and even bake by degrees. I like the oblong units because they hold larger cuts of meat. Sometimes I marinate something in the refrigerator the night before. Other times I add seasonings directly to the pot. I can use less expensive cuts of meats and really come up with some amazing proteins. I can cook larger portions to use throughout the week.
Additionally, soups and stews are so much easier with fresh veggies ready to be added from the preplanned sous chef session.
#5 ALLOW FOR A LEFTOVER NIGHT – You are going to have prepared so many good meals that you will look forward to a leftover night! This will clear your fridge and get excited about the next week!
These systems work for us most of the time. Some weeks go wonky and I don’t beat myself up over it. I’ve found that seasonal items keep it easy to have variety using the same basic concepts. The internet is never short of inspiration. Less stress is my number one goal, however, we’ve found that eating at home during the week, and using foods without preservatives, makes us feel better than if we eat out too often. This is a nice way for us to balance our passion for trying every chef we hear about otherwise!
Kitchen Photos via Becki Owens