One of the minimalistic blogs I’m following is throwing an interesting challenge on the web. It’s called “The Capsule Kitchen Challenge” and since Courtney apparently is a fan of th number 3 you can use only 33 ingredients during 3 months to prepare meals with. Not including herbs, spices and other condiments.
I must say, very interesting, but it isn’t a challenge I’m willing to accept. Cooking is an official hobby of mine. Instead of worrying about what to prepare for dinner today, I have so many ideas that I don’t have enough days to try them out. However I do try to keep it minimal by preparing most of it myself. Even the marmalade I use to bring more flavor to my breakfast yogurt.
The funny thing is, it isn’t as hard as I always imagined it would be. About a year ago, I suddenly changed my eating habits from eating three to four bags of potato chips a week to well.. right now. It is still changing, but I managed to find a couple of ways to help me do it.
Eat at regular times
This is probably the most important one. If I manage to screw this one up, everything becomes a mess real quick. It took me quite a while to find the proper times my body needed to eat at. But now that I have, this truly is the keystone that holds everything together.
I have tried many many times, but about two months ago, I finally found my morning recipe. First, a glass of water to give back to my body what fluids I might have lost at night. And a bowl of yogurt with a spoon of self-made apple-banana marmalade and a spoon of nutty muesli. In total, it isn’t a lot, but it does a very important thing. It makes me ready to take on the world!
Not eating anything extra after dinner anymore (so, no snacks!)
This was finally possible for me since learning to eat at regular times. The only time this one fails is during a weekend. The evenings are longer and thus my body expects to eat again. Instead of choosing (since it’s always a choice) to eat a bag of potato chips every time I get that feeling, I often choose to eat other things, like olives, dried apricots, nuts or just simply a toasted sandwich.
Only eating meat twice a week
Why? Because I simply believed I didn’t need to have meat every day anymore. I replaced meat with shrimps, fish, cheese, mushrooms or falafel. It was too easy actually, only because I didn’t look at it as a punishment but as “something that isn’t needed”.
Prepare almost everything yourself
No clever sachets of tomato sauce to drown your pasta in. No more pour water on me mashed potatoes. Cooking isn’t that hard you know. It’s only what those trying to sell all those flavors in a box want you to think. To sell their salty crap.
Throwing out the fryer
Oh yes. I did it. A while back even. Finally! It’s too easy throwing some fries in the frying pan when home late or feeling a bit tired. TOO EASY! And so it happened a lot. But not anymore. The occupying to much space machine has left the building! I do still eat fries, but nowadays I prepare them in my oven (takes 20 minutes) and sometimes even carve them myself.
Always have something at hand
So, what do I do now, when I get home late or am a bit tired? Once a month, I cook up a whole batch of chili, nasi, pasta or curry and keep portions of it in my freezer. I also keep easy to prepare veggies and fish in that magic cold box, that I can throw into a wok any day. Much healthier than that frying pan, and quicker too actually.
Only buy what you eat and eat what you have
This is a rule I learned to live by a loooong time ago, and actually applies to everything you need. Only buy what you need, eat, use, read, etcetera. Sure there are some exceptions, but not in the kitchen. Not anymore. Not for me. Only buy what you eat, and eat what you have in stock. Don’t grow a stock of things you will never use. It’s throwing away money. So check out that cabinet before prepping the grocery list, look into the freezer to see what’s been lying around for too long, and shorten the list of things to buy.
And last but not least don’t try to change everything at once.
Very important. If you want to prepare almost everything yourself. Start by one meal a week. And after a couple of weeks, mix them together so you can have two meals a week you prepared yourself. Have one day a week for experimenting recipes, until you find some you like. You don’t want a ruined dinner after coming home from a long day at work. You just want dinner.
These are the ‘rules’ in my kitchen nowadays. My eating habits have become a lot healthier (also, I lost 8kg) and I don’t have the feeling I’m missing out on anything either. These are my ‘rules’, so they might not help everyone. And if you do manage to find your own ‘rules’, don’t forget to break them once in a while. You didn’t make them up to imprison yourself!