I’ve been working on building better food and fitness habits before I start grad school in the fall; I figure that it’s easier to build habits like that when I have free time, then I can adjust when time gets tighter. One of these involves learning more about nutrition and starting to cook more so I can eat more whole, unprocessed foods.
Cooking isn’t something I have typically enjoyed doing. For a while I experimented with a meal-kit delivery service, and got fairly comfortable in the kitchen, but I ended up getting tired of their recipes. I find a lot of things about cooking challenging. When I know what I am making, I’m pretty good at planning out efficient ways of getting everything done at roughly the same time, but planning what to make takes some effort. I also find things with many steps (like clean this, chop that, brown this, bake that) very tiring, and they look really daunting ahead of time, which makes me not want to even start. There are some sensory issues as well, especially around handling food; I don’t like wet or oily fingers, for example. And then there’s all the cleanup afterward.
My husband does like to cook, but there are several evenings of the week when he is not home because of his work schedule. We sometimes manage to make enough food so I have leftovers when he’s out, but that doesn’t always work. As I’ve been starting to cook more, our strategy has been to get me set up with the meat for my meal already made—either he cooks an extra serving the previous night, or picks up something pre-made at our local food coop, where I know they use good ingredients. Then I cook the sides to go with it. That way I have less work to do in the kitchen, and I can experiment with different vegetables and ways of cooking them.
In the course of this, I have discovered that I really enjoy roasted asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and carrots. The combination of roasted brussel sprouts and carrots is particularly good; I just make them very simply with a little bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Soon I’m going to try roasted zucchini as well. (Roast all the things!) It’s been gratifying to find some new things I like that are easy to make, so I am looking forward to branching out into more recipes, including ones where I make everything myself. It’s also fun to cook together when my husband is home; that takes away some of the “so many things to do” anxiety about all the steps.
I have a book with a four-week meal plan that I’m thinking of trying out. That, too, would reduce some anxiety around deciding what to make for each meal. It’s just a matter of making sure we have all of the ingredients I need when I need them; sometimes it’s tricky given our shopping patterns, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out. And the recipes look great, so I think it will be worth it!