Let’s get real: It is far easier to ditch the kitchen, grab a friend, and grub out at the newest spot doing kitsch fried oysters and on-draft cocktails. But really, we can’t all be that savvy every day of the week. A girl has to take care of herself once in a while and dining out isn’t always the best way to keep that budget in check. I’m a server. I’m surrounded by chefs every day of my life. I serve the finest ingredients and most up-and-coming dishes this vast metropolis has to offer and because of this accessibility I too am lazy and usually ditch the kitchen. I will actually not eat all day and wait until the 3pm staff meal at the restaurant to get my sustenance. This is not the healthiest of lifestyles. And throughout my 27 years of eating I’ve heard so many stories about how eating healthy is too expensive for the average Millennial. I say no. Cooking is one of the easiest, most fun, and least-expensive ways to live.
Take the time:
Spend an entire day with yourself in your kitchen. Get a bottle of wine (or a box if it’s been that kind of week), braise something in it, leave the rest for yourself, and snag a second bottle to drink with dinner. Cook batches of things. Three days’ worth of oatmeal for breakfast, cut up veggies and cook a whole chicken then dole out portions in Tupperware for lunches, make a huge batch of soup for dinner, freeze half of it, pull it out next month. Dump in pot, heat, eat. Your future lack of sanity from work exhaustion will thank you.
Spend the (little bit of extra) money:
Co-op’s are my serious go-to. And when you’re cooking for yourself, it’s quality over quantity. Spend the extra cents on serious quality ingredients. It tastes better. Specifically, meat. Do not discount on meat. Buy a huge box of salt and really good peppercorns. Apples for snacks, those little chocolate bars at check out for that sweet tooth you can never escape from, and some damn good almond butter to spread on everything, but mostly to dunk a spoon into at midnight when you’re famished and so tired even the microwave is too exhausting a task.
Dutch oven. You can cook literally anything in this bad boy. Pair that with a cast iron pan and a cookie sheet and you can make/bake/sauté/broil/poach anything under the sun. Also, make sure to have a blender on hand. Smoothies are the best pre-batched breakfast.
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Some non-recipe recipes:
Grab some chicken thighs. Take some plain Greek yogurt, salt and pepper and rub the thighs in this creaminess. Once covered, dip them in Panko. Stick in the oven at 350 degrees and cook for about an hour or until your liking. While this is going on I usually stick some rice in a pot start simmering then closer to the chicken’s conclusion I begin a little veggie prep. My go-to is kale in a little olive oil and lemon juice, or I’ll toss together a salad. Make a simple vinaigrette with oil, citrus, a little Dijon mustard and either apple cider vinegar or balsamic. Season to taste. Something else I’ll make a big batch of is one of my father’s regular recipes. He still makes it when I visit.
Heavily oil a cast iron pan (See? Cast iron. Always coming through in the clutch) and sauté a bunch of garlic and some onion. Once floral, toss in a whole can of whole tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and let simmer. Cut the tomatoes beforehand if needed. I usually let them wilt and mash them around in the pan. While the sauce is simmering throw some pasta in some water (I like linguine for this one) and then toss together when done. This will last about four days and is a great lunch for you 9-5ers.Other staples I always try to keep around are dry goods to make weekly since rice and quinoa can last through most of the week and lettuce for salads. It makes throwing together something when you didn’t take the time to prep a simple flash. Really, the true test is to try and fail. I have burned rice and broken many yolks. We had to practice reading and writing, cooking is the same. And doing so when you’re alone is the best time to do it because at the end of the day, you’re just trying to impress yourself.