Monday, January 25, 2010

Cooking hiatus?

I talked to a friend yesterday who mentioned that he has basically stopped cooking, other than veggie burgers. He survives, it sounds like, entirely on milk, cheese, raw veggies, and veggie burgers. (And beer, for the carbs, I think.)
So I got to thinking - how much time that must save! How nice it must be to just come home and drink a giant glass of milk while nibbling on some carrots and brocolli, instead of worrying about cooking.
I won't be doing this, because I really don't like milk. I like chocolate milk, and I drink it sometimes, but usually I just grab a diet shake (fortified with protein and vitamins) instead.
But I began to wonder how long I could live for off of 5-minute meals without getting bored or missing food. Simple tacos/burritos, salads with pre-made tofu, veggie burgers, microwaveable meals, a pre-made mix of stir fry veggies coupled with a curry sauce; canned beans and minute rice. I'm not sure how this would go - I love foods that simmer. In fact, I love food too much generally - I love to savor what I'm eating. I love to really enjoy my meal. But this semester, 5-minute meals don't seem like such a bad idea. Neither does coming home to a carton of milk and a hunk of cheese. So for the next month, which we'll plan at the end of this week, I think I'm going to try to add some more "quick-fix" meals instead of meals that take a little longer. (Didn't really think about night classes when I made the first plan.)
This week? Mac & Cheese with stilton; goat cheese tacos; devilishly delicious seitan chilli, and salmon with pearled couscous. Chili simmers in the crockpot all day; tacos take 5-minutes, so I think that salmon and the mac & cheese will be the two most time-consuming meals of the week - but still, not bad.

What do you do to deal with time and effort in the kitchen? How do you cut down on one or both without sacrificing flavor, health, or cost? Can we have it all?


  1. I also have a pretty different relationship with my food than you and Mr. Barefoot seem to. You both enjoy a good meal, whereas with a few exceptions I don't get too much pleasure out of actual food. Something my mom and I have always said is that if we could get all the appropriate food-stuff in a pill, we'd do it in a heartbeat.

  2. I've fallen into this sort of pattern lately. Sometimes I think it helps me to eat more healthily because my eating tends to spread out more over the course of the day and because my eating tends to be based more on what I think I need, nutritionally, at the moment than on what is supposed to go in some recipe. That said, the lack of planning sometimes results in things like devouring an entire box of cereal in one sitting as "dinner."

    I wonder sometimes about the degree to which cooking with aspirations beyond efficient sustenance could be considered decadent and even harmful. But I still have a respect for cooking as a creative art. Plus, there is a lot of cultural and social significance bound to meals that can't be ignored.

  3. You say "decadent" like it's a bad thing, Tom. =)

    My quick-fix these days is roasting whatever I have around. It only takes a few minutes, and you can usually throw everything in the same roasting pan. Last night I roasted leeks, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and an apple, and topped it all with a little Gruyere. It took a little more than 5 minutes--more like 15--because I sliced the potatoes before roasting, but it's easy and doesn't dirty a bunch of dishes.

    Another thing we do lately is make double or triple when we cook, and then freeze individual servings for later. You get the pleasure of cooking AND a 5-minute meal for later.