Cooking can be a lot of fun. It can also be a lot of work, and when you're short on time with a to-do list that's a mile long, it can be easy to let it fall to the bottom of the priority list. (How many of us live close to all-too-convenient take-out?)
Good news: with a little understanding of what you have on hand and some interesting ideas on how to combine it all, home cooking can become wildly easier to do.
Check out the pictures above: what do all of these meals have in common? Fresh produce? Yup. Whole grains? Mostly. Really fabulous flavors? Absolutely.
One more thing: none of them came from using a recipe.
When we can shift our thinking around cooking at home from "THIS IS GOING TO TAKE THREE HOURS AND I DON'T HAVE ANY OF THE INGREDIENTS THIS RECIPE CALLS FOR" to "I have some glorious whole-food ingredients handy: let's play and see what we can come up with", we can reduce a ton of the stress that surrounds meal-planning, save time, and really celebrate our culinary creativity.
This method of meal-preparing is at the heart of the prep work I do on the weekend - and what I encourage my clients to do - to ensure I have goodies on hand to throw things together as needed. While some of this is pre-cooked (like in this post here, and this one here), having pre-chopped, pre-soaked, or just pre-washed ingredients on hand can really help cut down on the time you need to spend on it daily.
Here's a shopping list to get started:
With these goodies on hand, you can throw together a plant-based meal in a snap.
The secret formula [prepare to be shocked]:
1 whole grain + 1 or 2 green vegetables + 1 other veggie + 1 plant-based protein + 1 healthy fat + spices of choice
This could like like the following. Choose (one or two) from each line, combine, heat (or don't heat), and serve. Plant-based meal, voila!
And because all math has rules, here are two:
1. Take the pressure off. You're not cooking for Michelin stars: you're cooking to nourish yourself and your family. Keep it simple. That's okay!
2. Embrace accidents. Sure, something might not turn out exactly as you'd planned, but look for the happy serendipitous aftermath of your efforts. What did turn out awesomely? What will everyone enjoy, even if the texture seems a little chunky or the whole meal turned out to be one color? It might just be the most delicious monochromatic meal you'll ever have.
To the right are some combinations I particularly love. Do any of them speak to you? How will you combine your goodies?