A Mother Jones headline caught my eye recently as it bluntly told me "You're Using Recipes Wrong." Eager to prove author Tom Philpott wrong, I dove in. It turns out he has a point.
Most recipes invite us to think of cooking projects in terms of discrete meals: a pork roast that feeds six, a veggie pasta for four... here in the United States, the single-meal recipe reigns supreme: in cookbooks, on food websites, and in the food section of newspapers...
Philpott quotes chef Adam Liaw, who calls this "a very inefficient way to cook," and offers an alternative:
Imagine another, more long-viewed style of cooking. Say on Sunday, you cooked a pot of beans, roasted a whole chicken (tip: butterfly it), and whipped up a simple vinaigrette as a salad dressing and marinade. Monday's dinner could be a quick chicken-bean soup; Tuesday could be taco night; Wednesday, these elements could be incorporated along with some quick-sautéd vegetables into a pasta; and so on.
This idea of week-based, rather than meal-based, cooking makes a lot of sense to me. Sure, it runs counter to the home-delivery ingredient box trend, but it lines up beautifully with the realities of our busy lives.
Here's my first stab at a (vegetarian) week-based cooking plan:
Ahead of time, make: black beans, chickpeas, quinoa
Meal 1: veggie chili (my favorite has all three of those proteins, and cubes of sweet potato)
Meal 2: blend chickpeas into hummus, slather on toast alongside a cucumber and feta salad
Meal 3: sauté peppers and onions, add black beans, serve in tacos with cabbage slaw
Meal 4: quinoa salad with fresh herbs and chickpeas
Do you have another meal with these three base ingredients? Or think you could make a whole week-worth of meals with a few weekend prep hours? Share your idea with me and it could end up featured on the blog!
I should add that it was reading the end of Philpott's article when I knew he and I were on the same wave length. Philpott writes:
It would also help if we revived home economics classes in high schools, focusing on the skills of running a thrifty and time-efficient home kitchen.