Between prep, actual cooking and cleanup, food takes up a lot of a Real Food day. And I love eating well, but it sometimes feels like too much. I was pouting about this to Ryanna the other day, and she introduced me to a new phrase: ABC – Always Be Cooking.
To which I replied, “Gross. No one wants that.”
But then she explained: don’t think of your kitchen as a place you have to take time to go into to begin The Serious Work of Making a Meal.
Use your kitchen like a hallway, walk through it every so often, and do a quick little something: get a broth started, pre-heat the oven, take a meal out of the freezer, do some early chopping.
I did not feel inspired or comforted after this conversation, so I went home and made myself a cup of tea. I’m a serious tea-drinker. By which I mean, when I brew a cup, I set a timer so I don’t over- (or under-) brew it. I needed black tea, so I boiled my water, poured it over the tea, and set my timer for 5 minutes.
There was some stuff on the counter, and I knew dinner was about to need prepping, so I did a few things while I waited for the tea to be ready. I checked the timer and there was more time, so I did a few more things, and then a few more.
Then I took my mug to my favorite chair and sat the hell down for however long it takes until a resting mother is disturbed.
And then I got it. Always Be Cooking. I’d just done it. In 5 tea-brewing minutes, I just proved to myself that singular kitchen tasks only take one actual minute (or 37 seconds), and I had a head-start on prepping dinner.
I know that this is a very common theme in Meal-Planning discussions. But it wasn’t until I set an actual timer, and futzed around waiting for it to go off, that I really understood my own propensity for being overwhelmed AND my very confused concept of time (I think everything is going to take forEVER).
So I started keeping track, and here is a list of 12 things you can do in 5 minutes in the kitchen (besides brew a perfect cup of black tea):
1. Chop an onion, put it in a lidded container, and clean the knife and cutting board.
2. Wash, core and slice an apple, grab a handful of nuts, and eat it all, chewing slowly and thoroughly.
3. Make Water Kefir.
4. Start a new herbal infusion.
5. Make hummus (if the beans are already cooked) – ok, this might take 8 minutes, and then you will still have to scoop it out of the food processor and put it away, but still, not a particularly involved task!
7. Wash the dishes in the sink.
8. Look through your fridge for food that’s nasty, and toss it.
9. Look through your fridge for food that is about to become nasty, and think of a way to use it for your next meal.
10. Mix together Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow (recipe below, don’t worry).
11. Open a jar of olives, clean and slice a carrot or cucumber, and make a few snack packs.
12. Make mayonnaise.
Before you roll your eyes at me, try it. Set your kitchen timer and see how many little things you can get accomplished. (Remember, this list of things are all scientifically proven to be 5 minutes or less, because I put on a white lab coat while testing them).
You can get started with the recipe below for Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal. You’re welcome!
What kitchen task did you find takes a surprisingly short period of time? Which one on my list did you disprove?
Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal (inspired from theyummylife.com)
3/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup milk (whichever milk you prefer)
3/4 cup organic, plain, full-fat yogurt
4 1/2 tsp chia seeds
2 Tb tsp maple syrup OR honey, OR a few drops of stevia
1/2 cup chopped fruit (blueberries, apples, peaches, bananas)
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped nuts, 3 Tb unsweetened shredded coconut, ½ tsp cinnamon or other spices
1. In a bowl, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and sweetener (plus optional nuts, coconut and spices, if using).
2. Stir until well combined.
3. Add fruit, and stir until mixed throughout.
4. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
5. Eat chilled.
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