Time. Isn’t that always the number one topic floating around the office? Conversations over dinner about which person has less of it, texts to friends describing how busy one’s life is, hurried phone calls because you only have 10 minutes to chat. Time seems to rank pretty high in our daily stressors and concerns, right up there next to money. Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it as I struggle daily trying to push my time boundaries, but at some point it’s up to us to decide when enough is enough. No one is getting more hours in the day and no one is getting less busy, so wouldn’t you think we’d try to do something about our lack of this precious commodity?
A part of our lives that I typically hear touted as the most “time suck” is cooking and food preparation. For someone who loves to cook and truly considers that we should let “food be thy medicine,” this is a priority in my life and something I make time for. But I get it, not everyone has this same priority and wants to spend more than 30 minutes a night making dinner. I’ve come to a point in my career where time is far more scare than it used to be and I just don’t have the luxury of spending as much time in the kitchen as I used too. But as soon as this realization hit, I started to analyze my life. What was I doing wrong? Where was I spending too much time? How could I make my daily routine more efficient?
There was a lot of factors that I wasn’t going to be able to change immediately; my long commute being at the top of the list, but I could change the way I was planning and cooking our meals. As much as I love the spontaneity I associate with cooking, I knew I would have to become more diligent with prepping and actually plan out my weekly meals. Through some trial and error, here is “the plan” that I came up with.
*Plan a weekly budget
*Decide on a day to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep.
*Choose 5-7 meals you want to cook for that week.
*Draft a grocery list based upon the ingredients needed for those meals and any other staples you might need (ie breakfast/snacks)
*Go grocery shop – but ONLY buy what is on your list. Be conscious of your budget
*Start meal prepping for items that will not go bad on your meal list. Make rice, mix up marinades and sauces, chop up veggies, or cook meals that can be frozen.
*If you prep enough, each meal should be less stress free and take way less time to cook each night.
It’s a simple meal planning system, but it has worked incredibly well for the past couple of weeks. For two runners who eat a ton, we’ve set a modest weekly budget. Each Sunday (or Monday if we are out for the weekend) I set time aside to pick each meal, draft a grocery list, go grocery shopping, and meal prep that day. This takes time upfront, but makes up for it throughout the week. In the past, I’d scramble and stress over what to make each night, but since meal planning I spend about half the time grocery shopping and I know exactly what I’ll be eating for dinner every night I come home. Finding that I have more time each night to spend with my husband, dog, or time running and cooking is like uncovering a hidden treasure. It’s like eating fresh homemade ravioli for the first time, exceptional and worth every second put into it.
Kale + Sunflower Seed Ravioli – adapted from Thug Kitchen
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch of salt
¾ to 1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 block tofu
2 cups kale
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 cup nutritional yeast
In a large bowl, mix the flours and salt until well combined. Add 3/4 cup water and oil to dry ingredients. Mix until dough comes together. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes then place in a covered bowl and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough rests, take the time to make the tofu ricotta.
Mix the sunflower seeds in a food processor until they are in very tiny pieces. Add in rest of Tofu Ricotta ingredients and mix until smooth.
Take dough and cut in half. Roll out one piece until it’s pretty thin (less than 1/8″ thick) and in rectangle form. Using a spoon, scoop about a tablespoon of ricotta a place on the dough forming a line until you are at the end of the rectangle. Using a pastry brush, wet with water and brush a square around each ricotta. Roll out the other piece of dough and then place over the initial dough rectangle. I usually press my fingers around each piece insuring the dough is sticking to each side. If you have a ravioli stamp, this will make the actual creation of the ravioli a lot easier, but I don’t, so just use a knife to cute out around each ricotta piece. Any remaining dough can be rolled out again to make more ravioli pieces.
Boil a pot of water and add finished ravioli for about 5 minutes or until chewy.
Serve with marina and sprinkled with nutritional yeast and oregano.