My partner and I both work full-time, and when we get home from work, we’re tired and it’s difficult to find the time and energy to cook a full-blown meal. I guess that’s why a lot of people buy prepared meals and eat out.
Instead, we “pre-prepare” our meals in advance. For example, Guido (my chef’s assistant) and I got busy on Saturday afternoon and “cooked up a storm.” We made a huge pot of Chicken Soup on one burner of the stove, and a full pot of home-made tomato sauce, which we call “Salsa del Guido.”
Sure, we can buy pre-made tomato sauce in a jar or can at the grocery store. And yes, we have been known to do that. But we prefer our own sauce, in which we include ingredients we prefer: fresh onion, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomato base composed of tomato puree and tomato paste. Some recipes call for wine, but we don’t use it, since I am allergic to certain chemicals in grapes.
We will add all the ingredients, mix them together, and let it simmer a good 2 – 3 hours on the stove, stirring occasionally. Then I will remove the onions and garlic, and store the sauce in canning jars.
During the week when we get home and want a quick Italian meal, I will simmer some chicken in some of the sauce and boil water to make pasta. Add the chicken to the pasta with a bit more sauce and fresh grated cheese, and in 20 minutes, we have a home-cooked meal. Served with a side-salad, in no time, we enjoy a filling, balanced meal. Then, for me, often I’m off to an evening meeting, public hearing, or whatever.
Some weekend days we get really creative and productive, and make our own pasta, such as cheese ravioli. It is simple to do, but takes some time. But there’s nothing like having your own ravioli when you are tight on time but want a filling evening meal. Ravioli freezes very well, and takes just five minutes to make once the water is boiling.
Batch cooking in advance is the way to go. We can vary what we eat throughout the week and enjoy the benefits of our own creations, without having to take hours to prepare it. And that is not mentioning the money we save by not eating out or buying prepared meals that may come in too-large portions or with ingredients that don’t agree with restricted diets such as I have to live with.
Life is short: plan ahead!