batch cooking

5 Tips to Simplify Mealtime

These past few months many people have ventured into the kitchen out of necessity. Many may not have known how to cook or chop or boil, but along the way, learned new skills. From planning meals to dishing out home cooked creations, our ovens, microwaves and frying pans were all getting workouts. If you have adopted a new kitchen lifestyle or you are still “kitchen curious,” we have a few ideas on how to make your continued meal routine, just a little bit easier.

One Pot Meals

One pot meals are a lifesaver when you do not feel like washing dishes, because at the end of the meal, you only have one pot to wash! Soup, chili and pasta concoctions, fit the bill nicely when thinking about one pot meals. Here is a roundup of 26 one-pot vegan meals.

Order Sides

Sometimes finding that perfect complement to an entrée you’ve prepared can be a pain. You just don’t feel like making that side salad, rice or roasted veggie. That’s where ordering sides through delivery or take-out can be an excellent complement and save you time. For example, Melita’s Table offers unique vegan sides such as quinoa, farro, queso planta and amazing pineapple pico. You could use sides such as these to dress-up your dinner or even make a simple meal from side dishes (we won’t tell!)

Vegan Batch Cooking

Batch cooking allows you to prepare a large amount of food at one time so you can eat it throughout the week. It may also be possible to freeze batches of what you have made to use at a later time. Batch cooking takes a little bit of thought but the rewards are worth it! Here is a routine that currently works for my family.

–   Roughly plan meals for the coming week on Saturday (I say roughly, because there is wiggle room, I always inevitably change my mind!)

–   Soak two different kinds of beans on Saturday night

–   Grocery shop Sunday, cook beans (I use an Instant Pot, which makes the cooking process super quick and easy)

–   Sunday make large batch of rice, quinoa, farro, etc…

–   Monday make large batch of muffins or snack bars

–   Rest of week I work with the beans and rice to create different dishes that I had planned on Saturday.

As you can see, there is plenty of room to adjust and modify the planning process that leads to batch cooking. Sometimes I will roast a bunch of veggies an incorporate those throughout the week as well. It’s important to find a rhythm that works for you and your family. There are many inspirational books regarding batch cooking, here is one that is totally vegan!

Find Your Favorite Sauce

Having a batch of your favorite sauce can elevate any meal. A rice and bean bowl takes on a new life when you add a zingy sauce. Pasta or potatoes can be boring, but add your favorite sauce and you’ll be looking forward to eating it every day! Here is a link to a variety of vegan sauce recipes.

Keeping the Kids Busy While You Cook

Anyone with kids knows that mealtime can be a stressful and chaotic chore. Cooking the meal and eating the meal is often not enjoyable. One way to simplify mealtime if you have children, is to keep them busy and occupied while you prepare the meal. We have some great kids activities listed on our resources page.

And, I’m going out on a limb here, but I do not recommend getting young children involved in meal prepping, while you are trying to fix dinner. I know it is a common recommendation to get kids involved in the kitchen, which I am all for, just not while you are trying to fix a meal! Get them involved when you have more time and are relaxed, like weekend muffin baking. If you want to simplify your meal routine, occupy the kids elsewhere. We have activities, crafts and coloring ideas that can help.

The Magic Drawer

I used to have a drawer full of old pans, buckets, tubs, lids, toilet paper rolls…you get the idea. I would open that drawer while I was trying to fix dinner with two little ones under 2 years of age, and they would spend at least 20 minutes rummaging around in that drawer, making a delightful mess all over the room, but it gave me time to get dinner made. Try creating a “magic” drawer of your own, you never know what spell it may cast over mealtime!

Hope you found inspiration on how to bring a bit of simple into your mealtime routine!

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