You wake up early in the morning, shower, eat breakfast and rush to work. After endless meetings in the middle of which you hopefully get some time to grab lunch, you finally finish up work and head home. It’s already past your dinner time and you are starving and tired. Will you make bowls of ramen, order in a pizza or make an Indian curry? This question has become highly relevant again with the advent of the organic and slow food movements. And it’s about time.
As much as I’d like to say that I cook almost every meal I eat, that does not happen. So I get it. Having time to cook Indian food, or anything else, from scratch on weeknights is not a luxury that most of us have. Sometimes, I’m so hungry and tired, I just want FOOD and it almost doesn’t matter how it tastes and whether it is healthy! But over the last couple of years, I’ve adopted some habits that make it easier to cook on weeknights. Here are some tips I’d like to share.
#1. Shop for ingredients for recipes you plan to make. A few years ago, I’d just go to the grocery store and buy whatever caught my eye. Now I go with a grocery list that includes all the ingredients for everything I want to make for the next week. When you have all the ingredients in place, you are more likely to cook.
#2. Prep vegetables while listening to music, news or your favorite podcasts. Wash and cut vegetables and fruits when you have a free moment. That way, when you cook, half the work is already done.
# 3. Have snacks on hand to eat when you get home so you’re not starving. I couldn’t imagine cooking on an empty stomach! Pecans, walnuts and cashews have often prevented me from Top Ramen dinners.
#4. Learn a couple of easy cooking techniques and use them often. Here are links to basic Indian techniques I find myself using the most often.
# 5. It’s OK to use a shortcut now and then. Puree tomatoes in a food processor instead of dicing them for Indian curries. Using canned instead of fresh vegetables, while convenient, can pose health risks due to the presence of Bisphenol-A in the can lining. Frozen vegetables are a better alternative. When cooking Italian, I’ll occasionally substitute dried herbs for fresh. Dried herbs can actually concentrate more flavor than fresh herbs. Just rub the dry parsley or dill using your fingers and palm before adding it to your dish.
What do you do to make it easier to cook from scratch? Why? Have you tried the above tips and found that they didn’t really work for you? Perhaps a couple of the tips made a huge difference. In any case, I’d love to hear your comments on topic!