How many of you remember the TV Show “Sesame Street” being “sponsored” by a letter and a number? The show would conclude with, “Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letter P and the number 5.” Remember?!?! Childhood memories flooding back to you? 🙂
In that spirit, today’s blog post is brought to you today by the letter “W” and the number “1.” “W” is for “willingness.” I was inspired to write about willingness by a question/comment I received recently about prepping several days’ worth of food in advance — wondering how the pre-portioned containers of food stay fresh?
I gave that a lot of thought, and the word that came up for me was “willingness.” Food cooked daily … and fruits and veggies peeled and cut daily … are fantastically fresh, natch. In an ideal world, I would have that much time, energy … and probably most importantly interest … in cooking daily. But a good “Plan B” for me is to cook and prep in quantity — sacrificing optimal freshness, yet *still* preparing deliciously tasty food (in my husband’s and my opinion … grin!)
The compromise for optimal freshness I’m willing to make is to have food “at the ready” for me to grab and go. Otherwise, I am likely to make less healthy choices. And more expensive ones. If I can easily grab a peeled tangerine — even one peeled a few days ago and put into a sealed container, which is still plenty juicy and tasty — I am more likely to do so when faced with the choice between that and a free cookie at work. But if the tangerine needs to be peeled and then I have to wash my hands, I’ll choose the cookie every time.
Likewise with cooking after work. I get up at 5am almost daily. This routine is leftover from my days as a professional pastry chef when my workday started at 5am, which meant my alarm went off at 4am! I take care of several tasks and “to do’s” prior to departing for work, and then, like all of us, work a full day. By the time 5:30/6pm rolls around, all I want to do is eat. So if I have to chop, stir-fry, bake and steam foods in order to do so, I bet I’ll choose to stop at Chipotle and let them handle it.
Thus, I cook about 5 days’ worth of different types of veggies on a Sunday and mix and match them into lunches and dinners. I cook between 5-10 portions of various meat and vegetarian proteins, but only leave 2 or 3 portions in the refrigerator and freeze the rest. I find it just as easy to cook 10 chicken thighs as it is 3 or 4. My engineering father reminds me that this is “economy of scale cooking.”
When I cook this way, I stack the odds in my favor that I’ll eat *these* foods, versus indulgent treats at work and/or frequent meals out. But trust me, by the weekend, I’m more than ready for someone else to cook — and clean-up! So … I get a break, and we eat out. And we feel very fortunate to be able to do so!
Which brings me to our sponsored number of “1.” You guessed it. One time I am willing to cook … in big batches … per week. With the intent of having leftovers to pull from the freezer on weeks when I am uninspired, which has been the case this week! Some people say they can taste when food has been frozen, even if it is for a brief period of time. We’re lucky that we don’t fall in that camp, so this week I’ve been mixing and matching previously-frozen veggie burgers for Mr. Batch’s lunches, and mixing and matching previously-frozen Juiciest Baked Chicken Breasts and baked pork chops with various starches, veggies and sauces. As the tagline says, I made a lot. Froze some. And this week I’m just playing!
Would love to hear areas where you’re willing to compromise!
I created this Cabbage Salad with Mint and Avocado to use-up some odds and ends of veggies and herbs I had in our veggie drawer. And I really like how it turned out! We’ve eaten this as our Veggie Snack each day, but you could make one recipe of this and take it to a potluck or picnic.
Yield: 10 servings
- 1/2 head of cabbage (mine was originally a large green head of cabbage), sliced thin
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
- 12 colorful mini bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin (alternatively, 1 thinly sliced red or orange bell pepper)
- 1/2 of a red onion, small diced
- 20 leaves of mint, chopped
- 20 leaves of parsley, chopped
Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, to combine.
Make ahead: pre-portion into 10 containers with covers. Each day, add 1/8 of an avocado to each container and a splash of apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar (or coconut vinegar, or lemon or lime juice … whatever you like), as well as a little salt and pepper. Stir to combine. We find that just the vinegar is flavorful enough for us, but if you prefer a vinaigrette with oil, by all means add that, instead.
Make and serve immediately: add 2 avocados, cubed, to the cabbage-mixture and stir to combine. Add a few splashes of apple cider or white balsamic vinegar (or coconut vinegar, or the juice of a lemon or lime … whatever you like), and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine, and taste and adjust seasoning as you like.
In case you’ve been missing seeing what else I’ve been cooking in big batches, here are some shots from this week. Hover over the images to reveal the captions:
I leave you with a sign I saw recently and loved. Addresses another area of willingness! SMOOCH!
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