Last post, I talked about Progressive Cooking and the benefits of cooking a protein once, then using it, reinvented, throughout the week. There are a couple of other ways to prepare food in advance. One of them I have honestly yet to master but I think it’s a great practice so I’m writing about it anyway! The idea is to chop, cook, and package most of the ingredients for the week at once. The second method, soaking or preparing overnight, I’ll discuss next post.
So, I mentioned this ingredient preparation system in May Inspiration and linked to an article about it. I first really considered this practice when I met Tamar Adler and then read her book: An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. She writes, in a chapter titled “How to Stride Ahead”, about her ritual of scrubbing, peeling, chopping and cooking a week’s worth of vegetables just after returning from the market. She’ll then make salads, sandwiches, soups and risottos out of her day’s accomplishments. Tamar is kind of a romantic (“it doesn’t reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself.”) when it comes to cooking and wants us all to be a bit more casual about it than I’m capable… but I’m still inspired by her ;)
I think this system works best for people who like to cook out of their pantries or have a similar diet week to week. But I’m still a meal planner and recipe follower, so for me, it’s been a little clunky. Despite my inability to completely adopt this approach, I can definitely see the benefits and try to do a slightly simplified version of Post-Market Prep:
1. Wash and spin-dry greens and lettuces. I like to store them in the salad spinner in the fridge. Salads and sautées are that much easier! + Put your herbs in water.
2. Wash and scrub most veggies or peel them if need be. Chopping them up is also nice and if you’re ambitious, boil or roast them ahead too!
3. Rinse fruit (except fragile berries) and have them ready to consume.
4. Soak and cook a pot of beans or roast a chicken à la Progressive Cooking and have them waiting for you throughout the week. (Cooked beans also freeze nicely, we can talk about this with the Lean Pantry soon!)
5. Cook a pot of rice or pasta and store serving or recipe sizes in the fridge for the week. I don’t do this often but I think it’s worth the effort. (Cooked rice freezes nicely as well.)
I’m usually ready to take a break from food after I go to the market but this early preparation can help get meals quickly on the table during the rest of the week, if that’s an issue for you. What do you think?