April 23, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue
So, I’ve been talking a bit recently about feeding the Muse. Today, let’s talk about feeding the writer. Literally.
Who has time to cook when there’s writing to be done, blogs to manage, email to respond to, family obligations, and household chores in abundance? Right, I so want to spend time in the kitchen when I could be writing or relaxing.
Actually, I love to cook. I just hate washing dishes. But, when I’m on a mad writing spree, the kitchen is the last place I want to be. Food is an afterthought.
So, what’s a busy writer to do? Live off microwave meals and takeout? Shudder. It’s not healthy and it’s expensive.
Behold the almighty slow cooker!
That’s right, what you need is a crockpot. Load your ingredients in, turn it on, and forget about it until dinner time. It’s just so awesome. The slow cooker does its magic while you’re taking care of everything else in your life. It’s so easy a ninja squirrel can do it.
The thing I really like about my slow cooker is that it’s not just a time saver, but a budget saver, too. Because it cooks low and slow, you can use inexpensive cuts of meat and still come out with something fabulous and tender a few hours later with minimal intervention from the cook. Get yourself a nice big 6-7 quart cooker and you can make enough food to freeze for later meals when you don’t have enough time to cook.
So, what can you make in a slow cooker? Soups, stews, pot roast, rotisserie-style chicken, succulent ham without the mess of a roasting tray in the oven, chili, you name it and it can probably be done. I’ve even seen recipes for slow cooker brownies!
Now, if you really want to maximize your kitchen time, I have another trick for you: The Prep Once Method. Basically, you prepare a huge batch of your main ingredient and use it for multiple meals across the week.
Example of the Prep Once Method:
This week’s menu came from the blog Budget Bytes, which is now one of my favorite sites in the whole universe. I cooked up 5 lbs of beef roast to make into shredded beef and then am using the beef for multiple meals.
The Base Recipe: Multi-Purpose Shredded Beef
BBQ Beef-stuffed Potatoes– These were dinner last night and get a rating of 5 fat squirrels. Beth recommends baking the potatoes in the oven, but if you’re short on time you can just microwave them.
Hoisin Beef Tacos with Sweet and Sour Slaw– Beth has you make your own slaw, but I cheated and used pre-packaged slaw mix from the produce section.
Beef Ragout with Mashed Cauliflower– I’m skipping the cauliflower and serving the ragout over mashed potatoes. Since I was already buying baking potatoes for another recipe, I could make the mashed taters from scratch, but I’m a cheater so it’s instant mashed potatoes for me.
Beef Sammies- You don’t really need a recipe for this. Just pile the beef, some sauce and cheese on top of bread and stick it under the broiler for a few. Voila. Dinner. You could go the traditional BBQ route, or maybe try mixing in Italian style dressing and topping with mozzarella and peperoncini.
What? Too much beef in one week for you? No problem. Just plunk some of the beef into plastic baggies and freeze for later use.
The Prep Once Method works equally well with slow-cooked chicken or pork, and I do it frequently with meatballs because I love this recipe: Slow Cooker Albondigas. You can either buy a big bag of frozen meatballs or make your own: Freezer Meatball Recipe. Then you can make spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, meatballs stroganoff, etc.
So, if you want to spend more time writing and less time in the kitchen, give the ol’ slow cooker a try. It’s Kira Tested and Ninja Squirrel Approved.
How about it, fellow bloggers? Any other tips for quick meals that work for you?