June 23, 2009

I Like Big Pots and I Cannot Lie: Cooking in Bulk

If you're like me, you live alone (thanks, grad school, for stealing my boyfriend) and are so tired by the time you get home from teaching and coaching that cooking is sometimes beyond you. Finding the time/motivation to cook a full meal can be especially hard when there are papers to grade, webisodes of The Daily Show to watch, Skype dates to keep, and...oh right, sleep to be had.

That said, there are only so many PB&Js and Top Ramens a person can make before defenestration starts looking like a really good option. My solution? Cook real meals in bulk. Preferably on Sunday afternoons, when you're well rested, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! is on NPR, and the reality of school the following morning is just distant enough to be successfully forgotten. Store what you don't eat that night, and heat individual portions for the rest of the week.

The biggest benefit to this method is that it allows you to eat healthy, substantial meals on weeknights, when it can be all too easy to settle for a handful of Triscuits and a few slices (or a whole brick) of cheese. Sure, it can be a little monotonous to eat the same thing every night, but you can always add some pasta or rice, or thin your bulk dish into a soup with some stock.

My standby this winter was a giant vat of tomato, chickpeas, and lentils, to which I added various spices and other veggies from week to week. If you can handle carcass, another great option is to roast a chicken and eat it throughout the week. You can turn some of it into chicken salad, and then save the bones in the freezer to make homemade chicken stock the next time you have three hours free to sit around the house.

Of course, making a big batch of tomato, chickpeas, and lentils is less learning to cook and more throwing some stuff in a big pot and letting it stew for an hour, but it's a step in the right direction.

Baby steps, folks, baby steps.

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