You get exactly 2.3 seconds to lament about the waning days of summer. August gave us fall-like days, so perhaps September will keep the air conditioner running a little longer. I hope you had a spectacular Labor Day weekend and the first days of school weren’t too hard for the kids. If wanting to get your food preparation game in order, to refine that weekly schedule, is a new season priority, now is a great time to do it. Take my quiz below and see where your answers take you:
What are my food likes and dislikes? What cuisines do I eat often? Seems like basic questions, but upon further investigation, you might uncover an obvious love of Mediterranean-style food/cooking or that you are trying to stay away from red meat or other ingredients to which you are allergic. Either will dictate what cooking supplies you will need in your pantry and the tools you will need in your kitchen to cook what you like.
Am I “routine” or “try new thing?” If you are “routine,” satisfying the questions above will be easy. If you are “try new things,” you need to beef up your pantry and tools to accommodate the desire to make the occasional tom yum ga (a spicy Thai coconut-based soup). Some of the ingredients/tools can be double agents, also working for the Indian dishes you might want to try.
What do I consider meal variety in a week’s period? How often do I want to eat leftovers? Making a big pot of something Sunday night is great if you don’t mind eating it later in the week, but if you need variety, you will need to take some extra time in planning how your food week is going to roll out for prepping and cooking sides and main dishes.
How do I currently prepare for the food week? Is there anything out of the ordinary about my process? I have clients who would decide what they were eating for dinner that night, and then go to the store to get the ingredients to cook. Obviously, that was not working for them. Be honest with yourself about your time and how you make sure you have food in the house. There is always a better way, especially in New York City.
Does my grocery store meet my needs? Am I cost (quantity) or brand (quality) conscious? Product availability is your first line of offense. Spend the extra time and maybe the money, too, to go to a store that meets your needs. It doesn’t mean you cannot still get a deal on staple items. Look at it as expanding your food universe.
When I have time, do I enjoy cooking? What is my cooking skill level? You must enjoy cooking or have the desire to learn before you can determine your skill level. Beginner: cooking from a box/can/frozen package and adding your “special seasoning” to it. Intermediate; trying new recipes to see if you can follow along, roasting meats. Advanced: making anything from scratch, pulling together a delicious meal from the random items you have in your pantry and fridge or cooking (well) for at least six people.
Where do I get recipes and ideas? Have you seen a recipe in a magazine/newspaper/online or on TV, or tried a friend’s version of your favorite dish? Well, get to subscribing, ripping, buying, watching, surfing and asking. Start building your library, so when the mood strikes you to throw down in the kitchen, you will have the information you need.
What is stopping me from achieving my food goals? Take another minute to look over these questions and see what is stopping you. Sometimes it is less than what you think. I hope this quiz at least pushes you along in your food/cooking endeavours. I am, of course, here for you should you need me. Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.