K.I.S.S.=”Keep it Simple, Stupid”
While it is great fun to try and taste new recipes (especially if they turn out well), it’s unrealistic (for most of us) to treat every day meals as if they were special occasion events. Sure, you can take an extra 20 seconds to arrange something nicely rather than just glop it on the plate, but it’s finding quick, easy, and delicious things to put on that plate is the real trick.
Some things that help us out in a pinch:
- Grill, baby, grill! Although we are not yet in the big leagues of grilling (a Big Green Egg may be slowly meandering its way onto my wish list, however), our portable gas grill has proved a worthwhile investment. Lacking a vent hood (also on my wish list…), high temp meat cooking is best done outside, lest I want to endure the shrill sounds of the smoke alarm. More importantly, grilling=1 less pot/pan to scrub post-meal.
- Expand your concept of mise-en-place. Don’t just prep your ingredients for each meal, prep your refrigerator and pantry for maximum ease of grabbing/cooking. Purple Kale Kitchen Works has some great tips: “The mise en place I teach… is not bound to a specific menu, but extended solely from ingredients. I prepare each item not for one dish alone, but possibly for several. Rather than slice shallots for a single pasta dish, for example, I cut them for many dishes, even some I may not yet have imagined.” Note: roasting a spaghetti squash during my meal prep day is my current go-to move (want noodley goodness later in the week? boom. it’s already in your fridge).
- Cook in bulk. Soups and stews often work best for this, as flavors improve with a day or two of sitting in the fridge, but you can try doing a big cookup of a central ingredient and then building future plates around it. (Along with this…don’t throw out bits and pieces, they can add up to a great future meal concoction!)
Some examples of K.I.S.S. in action:
I marinated some chicken thighs with a failed salad dressing attempt (a citrus, olive oil, shallot concoction I didn’t really want to add to my veggies) and then threw them on the grill. While they were grilling, I heated some oil in a pan, sauteed some pre-chopped onions and then combined it with some spaghetti squash (pre-roasted), spinach, and spices:
Leftover carnitas (I would suggest making this recipe in a minimum of 4# increments) reheated in the oven with roasted root vegetables and steamed broccoli:
Last, but certainly not least (but no photos, because hunger trumps photos): grilled steak + spaghetti squash noodles in my remaining chimichurri. Delicious!