Work and food dilemmas
It’s not a new story… age old!! I have work to do so I can’t cook, let’s order in today!! And this becomes a repeated story for months on it. Yeah, there is an easy Indian option to hire a cook. But that comes with its own pair of strings, not to mention the cost. And then, you don’t have strict office timings, when do you ask the cook to come in?? So, the easy homemade solution to these woes – maggi and others of its kind. It’s unhealthy, and hence you decide to put it off for the next New Year resolution to start eating healthy. If this is you and you have read till this point, you might want to continue on as I have figured out a great solution to these woes…
First of all, let’s look at the problem:
Time: You never seem to have enough of it to look for pots and masalas on the kitchen counter.
Energy: Always tired to go in the kitchen… Really!!
Now Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver both did some inspiring work on this front. But we dont get their food. We want our desi stuff!!
So here are the solutions to all these problems, in THREE words- PLANNING, MARINATING and REFRIGERATING!!
Plan it all up ahead on a boring work day. Just when you realized the boss is not spying, sit in a corner and plan it up all. Make a rough sketch of how you are going to tackle food for the next week and then make an ingredient list to be picked up from one of the super markets. Get all of it at a go, while returning back from work.
Once planning is done, execution won’t take that long. Dedicate the Saturday morning to doing the following:
First, get all the veggies together and your food processor out. It’s a must to have a food processor. Trust me, you dont want to sweat out cutting vegetables all day. Alternatively, you can delegate and/or hire someone to help out in cutting veggies for you to use throughout the week.
Now, I don’t approve of using the pre-cut veggies found in supermarkets these days. Maybe peeled garlic seems like a good idea, but other sambhar cuts and salad cuts don’t really impress me. So, a better way to tackle this situation is by making your own pre-cut boxes. Invest in a good set of air tight plastic containers and zip lock bags, and store one portion at a time, neatly cut into sizes you want. Once you plan your weeks cooking, it isn’t difficult to understand what will go where. Keep the Friday box right at the back while Sunday box right in the front. Please note, starting at the Tuesday box, wrap each of your cut veggie in a roll of kitchen towel before stashing it in the boxes. Also veggies like potato or eggplant, which will go black upon keeping open should be kept just as is or halved within the box so that you can chop them in smaller pieces just before cooking.
Next comes the aromatic powders and/or masalas, very important if you want tasty food. I generally grind my own powders right at home, but I know, you don’t have the time or the interest in it. So buy both kinds (whole and powdered) and stock up. Masala can never go bad. Now for the western food, keep jars of dried oregano, rosemary and thyme ready to be used just about any time.
Now the aromatic oils – flavoured oils ready to be used stored in fridge. Make tadkas before hand and keep them in washed, air tight little glass jars of jams and jellies; and refrigerate. This flavoured oil will save much of your crucial time when in the morning you are striving to pack lunches while getting ready yourself. For example, keep a jar of oil in which you have tempered black mustard seeds and curry leaves to wrestle up a quick dish of masala oats or subz upma. Keep another jar of tempered kala jeera in mustard oil for quick bong dishes, and so on and so forth.
Let’s also look at the mode of cooking that you should use when in hurry… and it has to be baking, not microwaving and definitely not on stove. Baking gives you time. Stick a pan in the oven with all that you need, put it on the timer and off you go for a bath. You may even put in a couple of dishes in different shelves and be assured that the meal be ready by the time you are done with that relaxing bath; instead of slaving on top of a hot steamy stove top, or keeping a hawks eye on the microwave to ensure nothing is burnt. Baking is actually the best answer to a quick lazy yet, tasty cooking!!
For cooking on a stove, invest in a good pair of pressure cooker. They are so loud, that you will keep a track of the whistle even while watching the TV. Use microwaving, only when you have time to stand near the kitchen. Never leave food unsupervised in a microwave. It’s a fast way of cooking, hence very difficult to fathom overcooking and/or burning.
When baking, make a big batch of the dough or batter and freeze it in batches. This will ensure a quick batch of cookies or soft fresh bread instantly at a moment’s notice. Alternately, keep a big stash of ready to eat snacks frozen. Indian markets are filthy filled with many deep fry varieties of snacks like potato smileys or grill options of kababs. Keep a snack always on hand, for that momentary hunger when you just don’t want to slave off on a stove.
I have always found a good thing to do is bake a cake in the weekend for the whole week to have. his way you will have a wonderful energy filled snack ready for when you walk into your house all tired. Again, cut it and divide it up for the whole week, and refrigerate in portions.
So, a beautifully stacked refrigerator will let you go by a whole work-filled week, effortlessly. It is the main and major way up and beyond, to tackle work and food dilemmas. Cheers!!