Quarantine Cooking might make you think of recipes using few ingredients and lots of help from canned and frozen goods. That’s what I thought but the term refers to the shortage of essential ingredients, specifically sugar and flour, during World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic. At that time the government advertised slogans like “Save the wheat for the fighters” and bread recipes substituting a portion of the wheat flour with other grains were plentiful.
As we quarantine ourselves at home as much as possible, grocery stores are working hard to keep a continuous supply of food. There are a few items missing on the grocery store shelves but we have more choice than anyone in 1918 could have ever imagined (plus take out and Netflix). This makes me extremely grateful and is worth remembering during this time of uncertainty.
But we've still got to get food on the table every day. So here are 3 tips to help you prepare meals with more joy and ease.
- Organize for Success
- Cook Once, Eat Twice
- K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple & Safe:
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1. Organize For Success
Are you still trying to find a routine? Maybe still wondering what that even means.
Organize for success is one of the mottos in my kitchen. No system will ever be perfect and being organized is a relative term. There’s no end to improvement so as soon as it works I’d call that organized enough.
So what spot in your kitchen could use a little organizing? Not the whole kitchen, just the first annoying thing that comes to mind.
- Your bucket of gluten free flour or all those jars in the back of the fridge?
- What about that drawer crowded with rarely used items that prevents you from easily finding what you want?
- Or maybe it's the inability to find the recipe you want when you want it.
Whatever the answer is, write it down. Whether that’s a sticky note on your desktop or a handwritten note put somewhere in plain view to inspire you to take action today. Not next week, not when physical distancing is over…today.
That’s all. Just one small step that will make you feel more at ease in the kitchen. If it works try it again because I think we’re going to be spending more time in our kitchens for a while yet.
2. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Make the most of your time in the kitchen by cooking once yet making enough for two meals. This might mean:
- Cooking double the amount you need and putting half in the fridge or freezer to serve again. Try Sticky Apricot Chicken, Mango Chutney Chicken, Cumin Lime Chicken or Italian Meat Loaf.
- Preparing big pan dishes that can be portioned into different sized meals. Try Pesto Lasagna or Greek Moussaka.
Some dishes are best the first time they are cooked but you can still maximize your prep time. Small efforts as you prepare dinner creates meal ideas for weeks ahead. This could mean:
- Doubling a spice rub or breading recipe to keep and repeat that meal. Try this for Chicken with Adobo Paste, Breaded Pork Chops or seasoning for Blackened Steak Salad or Santa Fe Salad.
- Marinating extra meat and freezing it raw for a second meal. Try Grilled Flank Steak or Souvlaki or Lemongrass Chicken.
- If you don't have enough meat simply make extra sauce or marinade for the fridge to use next week or next month.
- Labeling all those jars, bags and containers will serve as a reminder what you can cook and prevent food waste. For more tips on that check out this post, Organize For Success with Labelling.
How To Make Leftovers Look Good
Leftovers are always tricky. When the food is amazing, properly reheated and served like a real meal no one complains. If the same food is improperly heated, not quite a full portion and served in a plastic dish it’s leftover. Set yourself up for success by avoiding the later.
Here are a few tricks you can do to make anything look like a different meal:
- Switch the hot vegetable for a generous salad, preferably with flavours that match the meal.
- Alternate the accompanied starch between potato, rice or noodles.
- Slice leftover meat and combine it with sauce and vegetables all wrapped in a tortilla.
- Serve a small portion in a ramekin and accompany with a generous amount of salad and/or vegetables.
3. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple & Safe
What is comfort food for you? That question is worthy of a dinner table conversation. Comfort food means different things to different people but it’s often simple foods. During these uncertain times anything that brings you comfort is worth doing.
I suggest you make a list of foods that make you feel good. Cooking and baking is good for the soul yet we have been brainwashed to think of it as time consuming and unpleasant. I challenge you to rethink that message.
To me Keep It Simple means cook real food and for people on a gluten free diet this almost ensures it will be safe. Shop in the produce section then wash, peel and chop vegetables with a knife. Cook in a pot on the stove and discover slow food. Plant some herbs in a pot or make a garden and plant vegetables. Buy a copy of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater's Manual and consider all 64 rules. This is the perfect time to reflect on our relationship with food.
Free ebook - More Everyday Meals
If you haven't got the ebook yet you can download it in this post, More Everyday Meals.
That's it, 3 easy tips for surviving and thriving with gluten free Quarantine Cooking.
- Organize for Success
- Cook Once, Eat Twice
- K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple & Safe
Let me know in the comments below if there is a specific cooking problem you're trying to solve and I'll try and help you. In the meantime, stay home and stay safe!
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