As I mentioned in my last post, Grocery haul: when I don’t have time to meal plan, life happens, and sometimes you just have to wing it. But as I learn to prioritize self care, I’m finding out that squirreling away 30 minutes every week to map out a meal plan and grocery list pays off BIG TIME. I save money — I stay true to my nutrition values — I feel accomplished.
When I first committed to cooking for myself (nearly) everyday, I’ll admit that it was a time-consuming endeavor to find recipes that appealed to me and that were within my cooking comfort zone. I would Google an ingredient that was on my mind and endlessly sift through recipes. I wasted so much time. On top of that, I would choose an elaborate meal for each and every day; I was exhausted. After months of failures (and successes!), I’m prepared to share a few tips that I wish I’d stumbled across earlier in my journey:
- Start a recipe binder (or folder or box or whatever). I’ve been printing out each recipe I try and adding it to a binder I keep in my kitchen. If I make any changes to the recipe, I write it on the page. If I hate it, I toss it. Well…I recycle it. So after doing this for several weeks, I had a binder full of recipes I love.
- Repeat your favorite recipe from the week before. This serves three purposes: 1) You become comfortable with the recipe. Eventually, it will be one of those meals you can cook on-the-fly. 2) While it’s fresh in your mind, you have the opportunity to make all the changes you were thinking about while eating your first try. 3) This cuts down on the “planning burden.” Been there; done that!
- READ THE COMMENTS. In all probability, other readers have test driven the recipes before you, and so many people are generous enough to share what worked for them and what didn’t. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Read the comments at the bottom of each recipe post, and you’ll find out how to adjust if you’re cooking a 12-serving meal for two, if you have a food sensitivity, or if you want to know how to appeal to a picky eater.
- Reinvent your leftovers. This is a big one for me, especially since I’m on such a tight budget right now. Food waste is money in the trash. I often double-up the recipe so I can use part or all of the meal for tomorrow. Example: One-Pot Enchiladas. The next day, I take those wonderful enchilada innards, throw them in a bowl, top it with a fried egg & guac, and that’s breakfast, ladies & gents.
With all that said, here are a few of my favorite recipes from the past month. All have earned a permanent spot in my recipe binder.
Bibimbap by Korean Basing
They don’t have gosari where I shop, so I often replace this ingredient with shiitake mushrooms. I also like to add a drizzle of Sriracha at the end.
Baby Carrot Soup from myrecipes.com
My boyfriend LOVED this. He doesn’t even like soup. This one probably goes on my Top 10 Favorite Recipes list that I don’t even have. Does anyone know if this would be good to can?
Chocolate Mousse by Vegan Magic
This is another one that has really blown my mind. I have an insatiable sweet tooth. This is a staple desert recipe for anyone who is working to eat more (good) fat, minimize carbs & sugar, or simply transition to a whole-foods diet. The recipe calls to sweeten with dates, but I often get lazy about this and sweeten with some maple syrup. That’s the beauty of this recipe: As long as you have the coconut cream, you can switch out the other ingredients. My favorite combo = coconut cream + cinnamon + maple syrup + vanilla extract. Have mercy.
As I say time and time again, be easy with yourself. Don’t stress over finding a different recipe for every day. Don’t worry if you can’t come up with your own original recipes. Others make a living doing it. Celebrate their talent by enjoying their work. And remember, it gets so much easier when you have your go-to recipes.
Any favorite recipes you’ve discovered this month? Let me know; I’d love to have a go at it!