During the recent pandemic months when many people have been cooking and eating at home, and cooking and eating at home, and, yes, cooking and eating at home, some folks have been exploring creative ways to provide tasty meals—maybe without spending as much time in the kitchen.
The following random responses are paraphrased from haphazard questioning!
- Thursday is a highly anticipated carryout night. Children and parents take turns choosing a restaurant, which results in supporting quite the range of locations!
- Buying food in larger quantities has resulted in cooking bigger batches and freezing extra for later meals. This has allowed fewer trips for groceries and quicker preparation later.
- When cooking or buying carryout meals, plan for leftovers—lots of leftovers. Learn to love leftovers!
- A variety of soups have provided a comforting focus for meals.
- Discovering Trader Joe’s frozen mashed potatoes (and frozen sweet potatoes) has made cooking this familiar food faster and easier—but start with browned butter in the pan and use milk rather than water for the liquid!
- Adding teriyaki or soy sauce to soups, stews, or meats adds extra flavor and allows using less salt. Herbs can also reduce the need for salt.
- Deciding as a couple to start a weight control program is easier than doing it alone.
- Watching cooking shows has provided inspiration to try new foods and recipes.
- Involve children in cooking their favorites, while teaching them about healthy foods.
- A Zoom cooking party with extended family provided lots of laughs. Each household used some of the same specific ingredients, but could combine them anyway they pleased. Several new favorites resulted from this entertainment!
- Crockpots and Instantpots have simplified mealtime for some families.
- Setting the table, lighting candles and sitting down to eat together without television or phones can create a peaceful, sharing experience, or erupt into silliness with joke night.
- Children doing online school at home enjoy handy, healthy snacks like Cheerios, cheese crackers, apple slices or peanuts—perks not usually available when they were at school in person all day.
- Discovering an instant-read digital thermometer and using it to check doneness has resulted in tastier baked goodies. The magic internal temperature for most bread, cookies and brownies is 190 degrees.
- If spaghetti is on the menu, cook more than needed. Place six “nests” of extra cooked pasta on a cookie sheet, cover with wax paper and freeze overnight. Place in a Ziplock bag and store in the freezer –ready to reheat and add sauce for the next pasta night.
- Romantically dubbed “French Picnics,” these meals involved a small group gathering at a distance in a backyard with each couple bringing their own chairs, bread, cheese, munchies and beverage for safe sharing and creative fellowship. Parkas, heated blankets and a firepit may be required to carry this into the next season.
- Give thanks for having a kitchen and food to cook.