Each week as I am deciding on our meal plan for the coming week I ask for input from my family. This is a technique I have used for years not only so that I don’t have come up with every single idea, but also because I have found that if everyone knows that one of their favorites is coming in the next few days, I get more buy-in for trying new or different recipes. For my boys the requests are always the same: spaghetti and meatballs, Grappa’s macaroni and cheese, taco/burrito night, hot dogs, and baked chimichangas. Similarly, my husband has a couple of go-tos that he likes to request and one of them is Moroccan chicken….
Many moons ago, when my now-husband and I first started dating, we did the thing that many couples do: we tried to increase our appeal by cooking meals for one another. At the time, neither of us cooked very much, so we both fell back on comfort foods that we had grown up with. For me, that was my dad’s Bolognese sauce. For my husband, it was eggs and rice.
When he first told me of his love for eggs and rice I was dumbfounded. Outside of fried rice at Chinese restaurants I had never heard of the combination. And to be completely honest, I thought it sounded absolutely awful. But in the interest of being a good sport with my new boyfriend, I agreed to try it. As I looked down at my plate of rice topped with a fried egg, I was still doubtful. And then I took my first bite and I was blown away! It was delicious, nourishing, and comforting. It felt like something I would imagine a grandmother would make for you when you were home sick….
When I was a kid one of my favorite dinners was tacos. I loved it because it was delicious, but I also loved it because it was fun. The table was filled with bowls full of all kinds of colorful options: green chopped lettuce, red chopped tomato, bell peppers of various hues, black or brown beans, white cheese and sour cream, red or green salsa, maybe a meat of some sort, Tabasco sauce, onions, etc. I loved that I was about to make my meal my own. I loved that it was such a communal experience—passing bowls, discussing our favorite ingredients, seeing who could pile their tacos with the most food and still fit it into their mouth. It was wonderful.
In my own house I have taken that same approach and expanded it to include all sorts of rice (and other grain) bowls. There are a number of reasons why these are a staple in our house:…
One of the recommendations I often make to clients and in workshops is to “cook once, and eat two, three or more times.” Many times, life can get so busy that meal planning seems impossible and all we can do is try to quickly figure out the next meal—tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s school lunch, etc. When we do that we are constantly searching for recipes and depending on our creativity, which can quickly burn us out and leave us resentful of having to cook at all. But, with a tiny bit of planning and maybe some flexibility we can turn one round of cooking into two or three simple meals.
One of my favorite ways to stretch the food I make farther is with a grain salad. If I am making a pot of grains—rice, quinoa, millet, couscous, etc.—I always make extra. So much can be done with leftover grains: you can turn them into breakfast porridge, throw them into a big green salad for some added heft, mix them into soups or stews, fold them into veggie burger batter, and, my favorite, turn them into a grain-based salad. Grain salads are great because they can serve as a hefty side dish and are so incredibly flexible—any leftover vegetables, cheese, or salad dressing you have lying around can get thrown in!…