Over the past few days I have been having a lot of conversations with people about how overwhelmed they are feeling. I have come to think that for many of us September is a month of unexpected overwhelm. Here’s my best guess as to why September can be so brutal: for many of us September is a time of transition—a new school year, work commitments start up after summertime lulls, and other communities we are involved with start to kick into high gear with fall activities—and then there are all those pesky things that need to be taken care off that we put off over the summer, or maybe that is just me. So suddenly we find ourselves trying to get into new routines, take care of long lists of things that really should have been done months ago, and snap out of the slower pace of summer. It can be rough and oftentimes something has got to give… and for a lot of people that something is cooking.
But what if you don’t want cooking to be the thing that drops? What if you are working to get into a good routine with cooking so that you can eat healthier, save money, expose your kids to foods other than grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese, etc? Then it is time to do the bare minimum.
Many of you know that one of my main goals is to help people to realize how accessible and simple cooking can truly be. I firmly believe that even in the busiest of times, cooking is possible and worthwhile. So how to you keep cooking as a regular part of your routine when things are so crazy?
Here are my tips for bare minimum cooking:
- Stick with what you know. When you are overwhelmed, adding to that with new recipes (or at least complicated new recipes) is going to add to your stress, so try to take advantage of what you are already comfortable with. If that is getting boring, try switching up the protein, grain, or spices. For example, a pasta with red sauce can get a makeover by adding some sausage (real or veggie), by changing the grain to rice or couscous, or by me
lting mozzarella on top.
- Go with what is quick. There is no shame is scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, quesadillas, French bread or pita pizzas, or sandwiches for dinner! They get the job done and will almost certainly be healthier (and cheaper) that the store-bought versions.
- Double the staples. If you are going to roast some vegetables, make a pot of rice, or cook some meat/vegetable protein double it. The leftovers will help you to make a quick and easy dinner such as fried rice, quesadillas, frittata, or wraps the next night!
What are your tricks for getting dinner on the table even when times are crazed? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!