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Try and Cook

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

There are not enough hours in the day to make meals and work unless you are a chef. My reason for writing such a comment is just that  , I work a full time job an support a couple cats and a significant other. For me to find time to cook and support all these is hard could there be an easier way. 

post #2 of 29


Yes , It's called time organization

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 29
It can be done. I'm on my phone so I'll explain more later. But Pepin's Fast Food My Way and its videos are a great start.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 29
As long as you're organized, get your shopping done strategically and have some time on your day of to prep a few days in advance it's more than possible. We're all busy and that's how we get it done. In fact chefs cook at home less than home cooks as far as I can tell.

There are a lot of easy prep dishes that you can set and forget like roasts, casseroles and stews.

There are tons of cookbooks with 15 minute meals, and pasta dishes take only as long as it takes to boil pasta.

There are many sauces you can prep and freeze like pesto and stocks you can pull out last minute.

Individually wrapped and frozen proteins are a sinch to defrost and cook.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 29

As Koukouvagia and others have and will mention, there are numerous books on cooking this way. I'm highlighting those of Jacques Pepin for a few reasons. I watched them as they were broadcast and was really impressed, I own the books and they can be purchased inexpensively, especially in the used market. 

 

The books:

 

The Videos:

  • Season 1
  • Season 2 ( I don't think this is the complete season as it's only 1 DVD)

 

The books are good, but they lack some things the video demonstrated.  This is one of only a few cooking programs that I think the videos are as good as or maybe more important than the books. The books have the recipes and they are fast. But the books lack the menuing as done in the program. More importantly, the videos show Jacques cook the meal in practically real time from start to finish. So you see him start this dish, do some work on the next dish. Go back to the first dish and complete the meal at the same time. Those are key skills to pulling off cooking on a weeknight. 

 

At the start of every episode, Jacques threw together a dish in 30-60 seconds. Granted, the prep, can opening and such was done in advance, but they were impressive small dishes with good flavor. 

 

Now, there were some cheats. He did have ingredients, pans knives, and such staged where he'd use them. They were minimally processed though so he did the peeling, chopping and such during the program. There were a few times they cut away time while something baked and so on. 

 

Further, Jacques is highly skilled so his prep work is faster than a home cook or starting cook can do. But the things Jacques did are still ways to cook a meal quickly and well. And you can do it too. 

 

Some highlight ideas:

  • Boil Water  When you come in the door in the evening, the first thing you do is put on a pot of water to boil. You won't get dirty doing that and you get that pot boiling while you're changing your clothes and such.  How big of a pot? That depends somewhat on how many you're cooking for. More people means a bigger pot most of the time.   So when you get to the kitchen to cook,your water is ready for pasta, or rice or blanching, boiling or steaming or your quick soup will not need a lot of heating time. 
  • The Right Canned/Prepared goods Good canned Tuna is something Jacques reached for on a number of occasions. If your budget supports it, the foil pouch tuna is generally even higher grade, but is certainly expensive. Similarly, Tuna packed in Olive Oil is a handy ingredient. You keep the olive oil and use it to dress the pasta or salad or prepare the sauce.  Anchovies, tomatoes, fruit, beans, olives, nuts. These are staple pantry ingredients and versatile across many cuisines. 
  • Eggs Very versatile, eggs are used in many ways. Having some boiled ones on hand in the refrigerator is  handy. Jacques also uses them poached on salads, as savory custards, a savory cheesecake on a salad and so on. The Chinese also do savory egg custards. 
  • Planning As noted earlier, an important part of making this work is that you have your pantry stocked. Either you're a good enough cook to use what you have on hand (what we aspire to) or you have done some advance work in menu planning and shopping for the week. This includes setting frozen foods to thaw in the refrigerator a day or two in advance of use.
  • Cook Extra Cooking more than you'll eat in one sitting usually takes little extra time. And you either have leftovers, or some quick helps to another meal. Baking potatoes? Bake a couple more. You can use those for a hash, or in a baked potato soup and so on. Boiled eggs, extra pasta for a fritatta.  Using leftovers is a quick way to a second fast easy meal. It's efficient in time and money. 

 

Some books in a similar style that I've liked:

The Best 30 Minute Recipe

Simple Weeknight Favorites

 

If you're a new or unskilled cook, all of these will take longer and be a little frustrating for that. Keep working at it. It is attainable and you can do it. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 29

If you enjoy cooking then you will find (or make) time to do so.  I worked a full time job + lots of OT, but I find cooking relaxing.  It was a way to unwind after work.  

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
These meals are great preparing them. But the timing would 2days before served.
post #8 of 29

You can always teach your 'significant other' to cook.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
She can cook well but she can't stand for long periods of time.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoherz14 View Post

These meals are great preparing them. But the timing would 2days before served.

That's what it take when you are busy. It's really not that hard unless you hate cooking. I put the effort in because I can't afford to eat restaurant food everyday, because I like fresh food, because I have to feed my family but also because I like cooking. I can imagine if I hated cooking it would be a chore. But I know people who hate cooking that do it anyway.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #11 of 29

I work two jobs and do not cook every day. I cook something that takes a bit more time on Sundays, my only day off, and then on two or three weekdays, I make something good but fast. I make enough to eat leftovers in between.

 

I almost never eat out and I never, ever eat fast food and never have. It depends on how important to you good food and eating well are. Sometimes I feel like my life is one long quest for recipes made with very fresh, healthy ingredients that don't take a lot of time. I have built up quite a large repertoire over the past few decades. As it is, on the weeknights I do cook, I'm usually not home and done with all of the cooking, eating and cleaning up until 7:30 or 8:00, which doesn't leave a lot of the evening for other things. But, then, if I ate out at a sit-down restaurant--even one in my neighborhood, and there are many--I would just be getting home around that time, anyway.

 

If you are cooking for yourself and another person, the prep & clean up could be shared and the actual sitting down and eating part should, in theory, be a pleasant ritual.

 

Breakfast and lunch are very simple affairs for me and do not take much time at all.

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

That is not what I'm looking for is not not the amount of time . But the quality of food that is being eaten.

post #13 of 29

I'm not sure what you mean by that. The food I eat is not always time consuming but it is always very high quality. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

post #14 of 29

I'm not sure the OP really wants assistance or encouragement. He has started this same thread twice and has seemed to find any suggestion made on either thread unhelpful or othewise inadequate.

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoherz14 View Post
 

There are not enough hours in the day to make meals and work unless you are a chef. My reason for writing such a comment is just that  , I work a full time job an support a couple cats and a significant other. For me to find time to cook and support all these is hard could there be an easier way. 


How much time does it take to support a couple of cats?

post #16 of 29
I don't know what you expect. Food takes a certain amount of time. Either you put the time in or you pay for someone else to do it at a restaurant or prefab food or similar.

Apparently for you the trade offs aren't sufficient. That's a decision only you can make. But you seem to have already decided that before you got here.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #17 of 29

Me and my girlfriend both work full time jobs. Finding the time to cook, to care for out backyard hens and rabbits, for me to make some charcuterie is a matter of organization. 

post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post
 


How much time does it take to support a couple of cats?

 

It's all about shaking them off your legs while you try to cook ;) At least with mine

post #19 of 29

Exactly, I worked eight hrs yesterday, came home checked on my elderly parents who live next door, started dinner prep, gave the dog a bath, did a load of laundry, and had dinner on the table at 6:30

Some nights we have a single serving meal, (steak, fish, pasta, etc) others it's soup, stew, casserole or something else that will have a couple of meals in one preparation and that reheats easily.

Yes I cook for a living, and most kitchen tasks are basic for me, but were not building nuclear reactors here. You have to want to do it or you eat out or buy frozen boxed crap. Organization and time management are key.

post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post
 

Exactly, I worked eight hrs yesterday, came home checked on my elderly parents who live next door, started dinner prep, gave the dog a bath, did a load of laundry, and had dinner on the table at 6:30

Some nights we have a single serving meal, (steak, fish, pasta, etc) others it's soup, stew, casserole or something else that will have a couple of meals in one preparation and that reheats easily.

Yes I cook for a living, and most kitchen tasks are basic for me, but were not building nuclear reactors here. You have to want to do it or you eat out or buy frozen boxed crap. Organization and time management are key.

 

Most kitchen tasks needed for a simple, clean weekday meal should be basic for every home cook, too - not like I am deboning quail when I come home from work on a weekday.

post #21 of 29

You might be a good candidate for Soylent. This is not a joke. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

You might be a good candidate for Soylent. This is not a joke. 

 

Curiosity finally got the best of me so I checked out the link with visions of Charlton Heston running through my head.

 

All I can say is... rip my heart out...Let's gather the family in the kitchen. We can all spoon powder onto our glasses. Then add water and mix. Then we can all sit down at the dinner table, slurp our dinner. Back to the kitchen. Put our glasses into the dishwasher. Done. What a pleasant two minute ritual of interaction and communication with family members...Thank gawd that is finally over with. Now we can all go to our own separate corners of the house and lose ourselves doing what we really want to do. Each of us lost in our own little electronic world.

 

I usually put dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. Fresh, healthy, tasty, enjoyable food with good company. I hope it never becomes a chore. I look at it as unwind, relax, be present time. The pressures of the world disappear for awhile. What could I possibly have to do that would be more important?

 

Quote: Art Buchwald

 “Dinner is not what you do in the evening before something else. Dinner is the evening.”
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #23 of 29

And you can do it three times a day if you like. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

I usually put dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. Fresh, healthy, tasty, enjoyable food with good company. I hope it never becomes a chore. I look at it as unwind, relax, be present time. The pressures of the world disappear for awhile. What could I possibly have to do that would be more important?

 

 

 

Indeed. Never saw making dinner as stress - on the contrary, as you say, cooking and eating together is about unwinding.

post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneMachine View Post
 

 

Indeed. Never saw making dinner as stress - on the contrary, as you say, cooking and eating together is about unwinding.

 

Yes, it can be and it is most of the time.  But let's not forget that demands of the day aren't always conducive to making dinner a pleasant experience.  Breakfast and lunch tend to be hectic and a nice dinner together can be a great way to connect and interact with our family.  It is for us.  But sometimes it's a pain because.... well because it's darn well harder to take care of a couple of kids than it is to take care of a couple of cats.  But you do what you have to do and quit whining about it. Before I had my kid I'd skip on making dinner a lot and just grab left overs or order out.  But with a kid there's just no excuse, I have to make sure his and our nutritional needs are met.  

 

As understanding as I am of most people's circumstances it's a major pet peeve when people can't find time to fit in things that are important.  Like exercise "I don't have time to exercise" is a major one.  How come you have time to drive around the parking lot looking for the closest spot?  You've got time to wait around for the elevator.  You've got time to check your email 37 times a day.  You make time because that's what you have to do.  Cooking food is another one.  On average it takes 20-30 minutes to wait around for a delivery.  I can make a brilliant dinner during that time and get the dishes in the dishwasher too.  There are people much busier than me making it work so there's no excuse.  Moms are amazing - full time jobs, plus running the kids around to soccer practice and dentist appointments, doing laundry, cooking dinner, reading bedtime stories and cutting the edges off sandwiches.  So don't talk to me about cats lol.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #26 of 29

I am a former chef and work can make it difficult I agree. For quite a while my wife and I used a meal preparation service and I highly recommend it as an alternative. It is very cost effective and if you find the right one the food can be excellent. Are you familiar with meal prep companies? Bascially we went in and signed up for 8 or 12 meals. We would then select the meals from their monthly menu and "we" would assemble the meals they just took away all the busy work like chopping parsley and onions etc. Often we would sign up with friends and we would spend an hour assembly our meals bring them home put them in the freezer and cook them as needed. Really was a great time saver and we often gave the meals as gifts to people who were sick or had just had a baby. Can't say enough about how convenient this was.

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #27 of 29

Keep it simple.

 

Shop the outer aisles of the market - seafood/fish, beef, poultry etc., produce (fresh fruit and vegetables).  Keep a few pantry items like grains pasta/orzo etc.

 

Challenge yourself to make 5 ingredient dishes (not including herbs/spices & citrus).

 

Shop/keep fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables on hand.

 

I have two indoor grills, one is a Forman, the other is large and round w/ a temp control and glass tempered lid.  I can cook/grill an entire meal on the latter. For example, fish (salmon etc.) or poultry and asparagus (veggie of choice) or steak and veggies, or brats etc w/ peppers/onions & on and on.  The whole meal takes a few minutes.

 

Stir-frys - quick, easy, healthy.  If your knife skills aren't the best, get a food processor, or you might find pre-cut veggies in the Produce section.

 

Keep seasonal fresh fruit on hand for dessert or snacks.  This time of year (Spring) there are lots of fresh options - berries, melon, etc. 

 

A beef or chicken roast with vegetables (carrots/onions/potatoes) take very little prep time.  Spatchcock the chicken for faster cooking.

 

Have breakfast for dinner - eggs and asparagus etc, with fresh fruit (& yogurt) for dessert. Seafood/fish cook very quickly - salmon etc, shrimp scampi and so forth.

 

Keep it simple and basic at first.  When you have some more free time, experiment with new dishes/recipes.

post #28 of 29

In the vein of Soylent a new product has entered for people who don't like to eat beyond fueling the body.

 

www.mealsquares.com 

 

I once had an acquaintance who couldn't taste. His favorite foods were about texture. Corn nuts, sparkling water and such.  These might be helpful for people in that situation. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #29 of 29

When I was working 10 days on 4 off(ad 10-12 hours a day!) I would cook on my days off, freeze some meals, leave others out for leftovers the next 3-4 days... Make a roast, have a nice sit down meal. Next day back at work when I get home chop roasts and leftover potatoes and carrots and make hash smothered in leftover gravy(hey it is a food group!), day after that was a salad and roast beef sandwich of some sort(this sliced, drop in some better than bullion to reheat, pile on a toasted roll for french dips, or just cold with ketchup on a bun!). Day before I made the roast I might have roasted a chicken. Take the leftovers and vac bag for the freezer. Make stock from bones and freeze in meal portions. Put it all together with some fresh veg for a healthy soup in 30 minutes or so. Day before that I may have made some sort of casserole(hotdish for us Minnesotans) that freezes well, or something like pasta sauce or lasagna that all freeze well.

 

The key is making leftovers that can be made into a variety of meals. I would get home, look through the freezer and pull out what was needed. Or take it out night before to thaw in the fridge. I never lacked for variety and still keep leftovers around even though I am now retired. If I have a busy day and don't have time to cook it is nice to be able to open the freezer and pull out healthy homemade food that is not loaded with chemicals!

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