Part of being able to cook with confidence is to ensure that you have ingredients on hand with which to cook. That means some degree of organization is needed. In other words, you can't make something out of nothing, but you can get creative if you have some basic ingredients in your fridge and on your shelves.
I like to stock up on dried goods, particularly when they are on sale. I opt for dried beans and lentils, which I will cook up in large batches in my pressure cooker and then freeze in meal-sized containers. You'll also find quinoa, rice, flour, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices on my shelves.
My regular weekly shopping list includes eggs, dairy, vegetables and fruit; most often it's a cruise around the outside aisles of the grocery store.
I attribute my shopping habits to my early life, growing up on a farm in rural Ontario. Grocery shopping took place once a week on a Saturday involving stops at the COOP store, the butcher and the Ukrainian bakery. Dependent upon the season, our vegetables would come from the garden or our root cellar, where potatoes, carrots and beets kept each other company. Heads of cabbage occupied another spot in the basement, as did the beautifully braided onions and garlic. The shelves contained jars of dill pickles, pickled beets, crab apples and an assortment of jams. And in a barrel in the porch - alchemy! That year's batch of sauerkraut was breathing into life. It was ordinary - everyday even - and I took it all for granted. But, then, that's looking at it through the eyes of a youngster, who wanted to get away from the endless chores that many farm children are accustomed to doing.
Back to your pantry. Does it need an overhaul? Would you like to change the way in which your family eats? Think about how you can slowly incorporate healthier foods into your meals, then add them to your grocery list.
If you find that you're running to the grocery store several times a week, consider formal menu planning. Save time, money, gas and energy by shopping once a week. Decide what you will make for the week, then shop accordingly. On the other hand, if your shelves and fridge are well-stocked, you can be a little more informal by seeing what you already have that you can morph into meals that satisfy.
Speaking of satisfying, here's a recipe for a smoothie that we regularly have for breakfast, which yields about 4 cups - enough to keep my husband and myself full until lunch.
- Start with 2 cups of water in your blender.
- Add the juice of 1 lemon or lime.
- Then, add at least 1 (or more!) of the following from each category:
- Raw Vegetables: spinach, kale, cabbage, fennel, radishes, cucumber, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, beets.
- Fresh Herbs: parsley, mint, lemon balm.
- Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, apple, pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, banana, avocado.
- Protein: chia seeds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, yoghurt.
- Extras: cinnamon, cocoa powder, fennel seeds, ginger, fish oil, ground flax seeds.
Blend. Pour. Enjoy!
How I put it together
Often, when I am preparing dinner, I will put the lemon or lime juice, fruits, veggies and herbs together in a container, ready to be put into the blender in the morning, along with the drier, more powdery ingredients. If you have room in your fridge, you could put the ingredients together in the blender, all ready to swirl. This ensures a quick-start in the morning, especially if your household is a flurry of activity, or if you like to snatch those last few moments of sleep before doing the morning dash!
Get used to being surprised each morning when you take your first gulp. Dependent upon the ingredients you choose, the colour, sweetness and consistency will change. Start with small amounts of the ingredients you like, then experiment with other ones. You'll soon find your favourite ingredients.
I enjoy starting my day with foods that are "live", plus the "slow burn" ensures that I am not looking for something to eat within an hour or two.
Will you let me know how this works out for you? Do you have a favourite mix of ingredients? What have you noticed about your energy levels?
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