Cooking Your Way Back to Routine
For many of us—me included—summer gets a little loosey-goosey in the cooking and eating department. All too often, it’s too hot to cook, and an apple with almond butter will have to do for dinner. But, we carve out time in our schedules for exercise (made even easier now by RB360
! Shameless plug!), and we should do the same for a little cooking and meal prep.
Having a well-organized and stocked refrigerator can be a source of calm and confidence in the busy weeks and months ahead. And an extra bonus is that the time spent organizing your kitchen will deepen your connection to food and help build a more loving relationship with your kitchen, which is particularly good if you feel ho-hum about cooking in general or have to contend with finicky kiddos.
In 2011, the Harvard Business School (Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely) published a paper on the IKEA Effect—a psychological phenomenon that shows labor leads to love. This study offers one of my favorite research anecdotes that I joyfully apply to cooking. “Labor alone can be sufficient to induce greater liking for the fruits of one’s labor: even constructing a standardized bureau, an arduous, solitary task, can lead people to overvalue their (often poorly constructed) creations.” In fact, when participants who had built the IKEA boxes were asked to bid on their creations, they were willing to pay 63% more than non-builders.
The lesson? Turn that labor into love and get your cooking routine in shape for fall. My plan is to cook a few things each Sunday afternoon that will make it easier to pull together meals during the work week. Here are a few tips to get you cooking your way back to routine:
- Batch prep breakfast. My go-to meal: 1/2 cup rolled oats, enough unsweetened almond milk to just cover the oats, plus a scoop of almond butter and a spoonful of apricot fruit spread for a little sweetness. No need to heat this as just a little time allows the oats to soften nicely.
- Make 2 big batches of something you can mix and match for lunches and dinners throughout the week: brown rice and chicken salad one week; grilled pork tenderloin and roasted sweet potatoes the next.
- Make a big jar of salad dressing to keep in the refrigerator all week. Try an easy ratio of 1:1 olive oil and vinegar (sherry and champagne vinegar are my current faves), plus a dollop of Dijon mustard and a pinch of crushed red chile flakes.
- Don’t forget about snacks! It’s honestly almost as easy to peel and chop 7 carrots as it is 1 carrot, so do a big batch. Wrap the carrot sticks in a wet towel and store them in a resealable plastic baggie in the refrigerator.
- Blend beautiful end-of-summer produce into gazpacho for a drinkable and transportable “soup salad” that makes office lunches super simple.
What are your favorite get-ahead techniques? I’d love to hear!
This post brought to you by Molly Siegler, RedBird teacher and Food Editor for Whole Foods Market. Molly will continue to bring us articles on culinary technique, healthy recipes and information on how to stay mindful in the kitchen and stay present in our relationship with food. A classically trained chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, her professional background includes cooking instruction, nutrition education, local foods procurement, catering, cooking and baking at restaurants across the U.S., as well as recipe development and plenty of editing. As a student and special fellow at Grinnell College, Molly focused on community food systems and sustainability, as well as area school lunch programs and introducing children to new foods and the fun of cooking.