When we first created the Misner Plan in the immediate days after Ivan’s diagnosis with prostate cancer, I was working both in the office and from home. Believe me, I get it when people, most often women, complain that there is not enough time in the day to cook from scratch for every meal, work full time, and care for young children in the home.
But I felt like I had no choice.
It was imperative for Ivan’s recovery from cancer to follow a program designed to optimize the immune system that allowed him to heal naturally. That meant home-cooked meals three times a day, with no pre-packaged, ready-made, canned, or preservative-laden elements in them. And it seemed like a daunting task to figure out how I was going to find the time in my already busy life to make that happen.
Subsequently, I learned to be super organized and creative. In this blog, I’d like to share three tips with you that made it possible for me to stay engaged in my own busy life and put home-cooked meals “on the table” three times each day.
Misner Plan Tips for Leveraging Your Time in the Kitchen
1. Clean, trim, and bag up your veggies when you buy them. When you get home with the groceries, enlist the help of your age-appropriate family members to cut away the long stalks from broccoli heads, trim the leaves off the celery, take the tops off carrots and leeks, and remove the outer paper layer of onions and garlic. (Save your trimmings to use in the vegetable stock we will be discussing when in point 3) After cleaning the produce to remove any chemical residues from growing, transport, and storage, bag them in either gallon or quart baggies, removing as much air from the bags as possible before sealing. This will not only put ready-to-cook vegetables at your fingertips, it will also actually extend the freshness of the veggies compared to simply storing them in your crisper drawers. If you are not cooking for someone who needs the very highest level of nutrition, you might also consider pre-chopping the veggies, so they are ready to go straight from the fridge to the pan.
2. Cook extra at supper to include in the next day’s breakfast and lunch. Most people I know cook at least one meal per day, even if they’re not customarily making a home-cooked breakfast and lunch. It’s super easy to cook tomorrow’s vegetables while you are cooking the side dishes for supper, or simply prepare enough at supper that you can use the extra for elements of both breakfast and lunch the next day. Here’s how this can look at the Misner house: For supper, I might steam some brown rice and steam fry some onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes to serve with the rice. By making extra rice and vegetables, I have my vegetables ready to go into the morning country skillet scramble and to serve with the extra brown rice as a lunch rice bowl. To keep things from getting boring, I might use Asian spices at supper, while switching to Italian seasonings for the noon meal. Seasoning can really change the whole taste of the dish. If you don’t like the idea of eating the same thing two days straight, you can always have some summer squash and sweet potatoes roasting in the oven for the next day’s meals while you’re preparing that evening’s meal on the stove. See what I mean? Super easy!
3. Spend time on the weekend preparing veggie stock, broths, and meat portions to use during the week as a base for your meals. This can take anything from two hours to six hours, depending on how involved you want to get. (Please remember to clean any trimmings from your grocery store run, as they will also have both pesticide and petroleum residue on them simply by virtue of having been grown outside, transported to and stocked at the store.) Healing Begins in the Kitchen has creative recipes for both vegetable stock and broths made from chicken and beef. Use veggie and meat stocks as your cooking liquid or to build a full-blown soup out of. It can also be a real time saver to cook your meat dishes ahead of time and refrigerate them, or freeze single portions for later in the week. Please note: on the Misner Plan, we avoid using the microwave to reheat foods in order to preserve the integrity of the food. It’s really easy and quick to put your meat dishes in a steamer or reheat in the oven while you are cooking supper. Of course, if you are taking a meal to work for lunch, you will need to reheat in the office microwave, unless your office is equipped with a counter-top element, such as an electric hob.
I know these tips will help you streamline your time in the kitchen, because they have sure done so for me!