One of the glorious parts about being a student again is that I have the flexibility to spend time at home in Kansas in-between semesters. (I must also not forget to recognize my wonderful husband who graciously holds down our fort in Brooklyn while I am gone.) Over the last two weeks I played with my parents’ dogs (George, Chloe and baby Brynn); followed my mom to work every day; had a glass (or two) of wine in the evenings; worked out with my mom and her trainer; got coffee and breakfast on the weekends at ‘the new’ Hen House; shopped; hung out with my sister (and her precious dog) in Lawrence; visited my grandparents at ‘The Home’*; and got to cook in my parents’ wonderful kitchen. That is the life, right?
Pictured above: baby Brynn and my precious niece Millie
Whenever I go home I try to convince my mom and my sister that cooking and eating nutrient-rich food can be really easy and delicious! I really try to convince everyone of this, and believe it wholeheartedly, BUT I recognize that not everyone likes to cook as much as I do. It isn’t fair for me to expect that everyone will be willing to put in the time that I do prepping, planning and shopping each week. Heck, it can even become a bit burdensome to me sometimes! Therefore, I am constantly in search of ways to make their lives easier and more nutritious. My solutions have to be faster/simpler and tastier than going out to eat, the former of which can be really tough.
At home in Brooklyn I freeze just about everything. If I make a loaf of banana bread, I freeze half of it. If I make a big pot of soup, I freeze half of it. If I make pasta… you get it. (I will note that not everything can be frozen and re-heated successfully, but I keep this in mind when choosing meals.) That said, I set out to try to integrate the freezer into my sister and mom’s meal planning regimen. While home, my mom and I cooked and froze FIVE different meals: carrot barley risotto; vegetarian enchiladas; sweet potato cheesy pasta; veggie burgers (more about these winners another time); and the ginger broth for cabbage ramen. Can you identify a pattern here? I love Naturally Ella’s recipes—they are brilliant and approachable meatless dishes for meat-eaters like my family. I wanted to include re-heating directions for each recipe, as well as note a few fresh ingredients to include day-of, but I didn’t get that far—next time!
Pictured above: toasty nuts for the veggie burgers and our spoils from the grocery store
My mom and sister have decided that every other week my sister will drive to my parents’ house on Sunday afternoon to cook and freeze meals for the following weeks. I absolutely love this idea because it links an activity that maybe wouldn’t be as fun for them (meal planning/cooking) with an activity that they would be motivated to continue (time together, and perhaps wine).
What are your barriers to eating nutritious food at home? If you are like my family and me, maybe you should try prepping and freezing ahead of time! The hardest part of that scenario is trying to decide what you make ahead of time and what fresh ingredients you may need to add when you re-heat. If that is the only thing holding you back— send me your recipe and I can help!
*My grandmother calls their retirement/assisted living community ‘The Home’