I have a love/hate relationship with food. For the longest time, I thought that I should work hard to up my cooking game to become an amazing chef. I would spend time perusing recipes, then more time looking for the specialty ingredients (God bless the West-side market), then I would slave away in the kitchen, after all my hard work I would feed my family and they would say “oh, this is good” and then go about their lives.
The problem wasn’t that they didn’t like it. The problem was that “I” didn’t like it – not the food, just all the time spent preparing it. I started a science experiment of sorts to check out my families response to various levels of work on my part. I started making all sorts of different meals and I found out an AMAZING thing. If I told my kiddos that they we were having a “cereal party” and then fed them cold, generic cereal right out of the box, they would say “oh, this is good”. The exact same response as if I spent a week preparing what I thought was an amazing meal!
The takeaway, (and what I am trying to do) is to MAKE SIMPLE MEALS. I am not saying unhealthy or even untasty (although cereal parties never killed anyone) – just SIMPLE. Find meals that are easy to make and nutritious that your family loves and make them – repeatedly. If you enjoy cooking then by all means, make time to enjoy being in the kitchen. But, if you are like me and can find a million better things to do, then I give you permission to be a slacker (just like in Back to the Future), but in the kitchen.
Now, on to the homework – You have probably already cleared out your fridge and your pantry (maybe?). So now I would like you to clean out your spice cupboard, drawer, rack (wherever you keep these things). This also includes all of those other “specialty” type foods – did you go to a party and buy a bunch of seasoning packs or dip mixes that you have never used? (Yeah, that was 1992 – time to get rid of them!)
1. Empty cupboard, drawer, container, etc. (I’m gonna say cupboard, but you know what I mean) where you keep your spices and other “specialty” type ingredients.
2. Wipe out the cupboard. (Make Jimmy Fallon “eww” sounds)
3. Look at each ingredient one at a time and think about the last time you actually used it. Then think about the next time you actually will use it. If neither of these is in this WEEK – get rid of it.
4. Check the expiration date – now laugh at yourself and get rid of it.
5. Wonder why there are four different bottles of garlic powder (you can never have enough garlic) then combine the ones that are still good and vow NOT to buy more garlic for at least a week;)
6. Also wonder where all of the toothpicks are coming from (I don’t remember buying them) and why there are 27 ramen seasoning pouches in the spice cupboard, and if this is where you store sprinkles (you know those things you keep meaning to put on something and then you aren’t sure you have any, so you just buy more and then you get home and realize you already had some and then you don’t make that item anyway), well…- get rid of everything except the least shady looking box of toothpicks.
7. Anything that has NEVER been opened – get rid of it.
8. NO – you aren’t going to make it for a Saint Day or Easter – you didn’t make it for Thanksgiving or Christmas, soo….GET RID OF IT!
9. Now organize what is left in any order that you like – OCD rules here – alphabetically, or most to least used, or biggest to littlest, or rainbow order by color cap – whatever.
10. Now look at your cupboard and smile. -and wonder why you haven’t done that before!
Less stress in the kitchen, the AMAZINGLY SIMPLE way!
Please share your finds (I’m giving bragging points for the person with the weirdest item and for the oldest expiration date!) – this could be a fun one!