I want to talk about simple home cooking this week. With the pandemic and supply shortages across the globe, now is the perfect time to dial down your meals to easier fare.
It will not only save you time and money right now, but it will also give you a chance to brush up on your basic cooking skills. Plus, there is nothing like having delicious food simmering on the stove without the stress of trying to make a restaurant copycat.
Here are few culinary tips to get you started.
Invest in Staples
I’m not talking about fashion, but I am talking about giving your pantry a makeover. With just a few common ingredients on your shelves, you can be ready to whip up any quick and healthy meal.
The easiest basic entrees to put together are salads, soups and hearty bowls. So think about the components you’ll need: a base, plenty of veggies, a lean protein (optional) and a sauce to finish things off.
For the base of a salad or bowl, I like to have lots of organic leafy greens available and/or healthier grains like brown rice, quinoa, farro or gluten-free pasta. Beans and lentils are also good options.
For soups, organic bone broth is so good for your gut and super delicious. You can find both chicken and beef bone broth in most stores now. If those aren’t available, an organic low sodium broth works well too. Bone broth is super easy to make at home too!
Broth is also a great way to add flavor to your rice or other grains by using it as a substitute for water. To check out more of my favorite ingredient swaps, click here.
To make my own sauce or dressing, I always have olive oil and some red wine or champagne vinegar on hand. Coconut oil is also a must, if not for cooking then for its other health benefits.
And don’t forget the power of spices and fresh and/or dried herbs to elevate simple home cooking to superstar status without much effort.
Mexican flavors: cumin, coriander, chili powder
Indian flavors: curry, cumin, coriander, cardamom
Italian flavors: basil, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and garlic
Asian flavors: five-spice, ginger, cumin, star anise, turmeric, cinnamon
Middle Eastern flavors: Za’atar, paprika, black pepper
As you can see, cumin, coriander and cinnamon are extremely versatile, so take this time to experiment. I also LOVE having a lot of fresh herbs on hand, like thyme, parsley, cilantro, tarragon. I pretty much always have those four on hand! Chop those herbs up, and add them to anything and make it sing!
While I eat mostly plant-based meals, my body just does better with a little lean protein. I always try to purchase from the Farmer’s Market so I can ask the actual farmer questions and know exactly what I am getting. You can also find sustainably and ethically raised meat, poultry and seafood at groceries like Whole Foods. You want to buy it fresh because again, then you know it hasn’t been sitting in a freezer truck for months.
Keep It Simple, Sous Chef!
While I love to impress my family and friends with a new recipe, the real secret to a delicious meal isn’t flashy. It’s the time and care you put into creating it.
Think about the homemade dishes you loved from your past; were they made in fancy 5-star kitchens with all the gadgets? Probably not. Because a simple dish can quickly warm hearts.
So regardless of whether you’re a Michelin star chef in training, or you store sweaters in your stove like Carrie Bradshaw, I challenge you to perfect an easy dinner this month. A dish you can make when you’re home late from a long day and need something in your tummy before you head to bed.
Try to use 5 ingredients or less, so that you’re focusing on quality, not quantity. Keep it simple! This way, it’s easy to practice a few times without breaking the bank and it forces you to get creative. Experiment with different spices or a vegetable you’ve always been curious about trying. You can also check out my insta post on my fav simple vegan Kale Ceaser Salad for some inspiration!
To help you out, here are a few resources outside of Pinterest. MyFridgeFood is a genius website that lets you check off what you have in your fridge and then offers you suggestions based on those ingredients. SuperCook is another online solution that instantly matches your available ingredients with recipes from the most popular cooking websites. Plus, they have an app, so you can plan ahead in the grocery or Farmer’s Market.
Stay In Season
Include produce that’s in season in your simple home cooking. In season means the food was grown at the same time of the year you actually eat it. But most importantly, it means it hasn’t been sitting in a shipping container for the past three months covered in some chemical preservatives or in a controlled atmospheric storage for the long-ass trip to your grocery store.
You get to bliss out to that ripe, incredible flavor, like Mother Nature intended!
And when you buy in season, you’re buying food at its peak of supply too. When there’s abundance of a product, the prices go down because farmers would obviously rather sell their products for a lower price than not at all!
Seasonal food is also much less expensive to produce and to harvest. And it doesn’t require the poison pesticides and genetic modification needed to grow the same one crop all year long. This means a healthier you and a healthier planet. (Two thumbs up!)
To check out my Top 3 favorite foods in season for Fall, click here.
So are you ready to try some simple home cooking this month? What dish are you going to make first? Let’s swap recipes in The Badass Beauty Club on Facebook!
And then be sure to join me for a Facebook LIVE every Friday at 9AM PT.
LOVE + simple suppers!