Back to School, Back to the Kitchen

Garlic, cilantro, and potatoes


It’s starting to really feel like autumn, and while I LOVE the summer, I’m ready to get back to my back-to-school routines. After a lot of eating out, indulging and other recreational pastimes, it’s time for me to turn inward and get back to meal planning, packing lunch, and eating dinner at home with my husband.

Having a schedule and a routine helps me make better choices about what I’m eating and how much money I’m spending. I’m sharing three simple tips that I live by to integrate cooking more fully into my daily life.

1. Meal Planning – I’m a teacher, so lesson planning is a weekly routine for me. But what about meal planning? Every Sunday, I take about 10 minutes to jot down dinner meals for Monday – Thursday. So come Tuesday, I’m not spending the mental energy to think up a meal or scramble for dinner, but simply just following a plan. Try this weekly meal planner template to get your brain juices flowing. Also, by meal planning in advance, I create a grocery shopping list from those meal plans to have all the necessary ingredients on hand (which also helps reduce food waste from unwarranted grocery purchases).

2. Grocery Shopping – Grocery shopping can be a stressful task in New York City, particularly at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods on a weekday at 6pm when you’re hungry. I love both of those establishments, but can’t put forth enough emotional energy to withstand them at times that are convenient for me. We often choose a 6-8am Fresh Direct delivery that arrives as I’m getting ready for work on weekdays, which ensures that our groceries are in our fridge without having stepped out of the apartment. We also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share with Nextdoorganics which we pick up weekly for our locally sourced fresh veggies.

3. Keeping it simple by mastering techniques, not recipes – I often find that people get pretty obsessed with recipes, and having all the ingredients to cook them. Sometimes recipes can also take twice as long if you aren’t yet comfortable in the kitchen. If you master a few basic techniques, such as sautéing, roasting, steaming and pan-searing, you can eventually substitute ingredients and build your own intuition in the kitchen. Check out my simple video tips to see what I’m talking about.

What are some tips that make it easier for you to cook on a regular basis? Leave a comment below!

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