Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Quick Cooking Plan

This year I have a lot to do. Much to read, much to learn, many hours of practice to work through. And I need to eat well, while spending a minmum of hours on cooking. Absolutely no more than half an hour, preferably less. Fifteen minutes sounds ideal, but probably utopian.

Simple, tasty, good for you.
My first idea is to have a weekly structure, to make sure we get to have a balanced diet. In Sweden we already have some days that are culturally dedicated to a particular dish or type of dish. For example, Thursdays are peasoup & pancake days. This tradition goes back as far as the Middle Ages, when Sweden was still a Catholic country (King Gustav Vasa made us Protestant in the 16th Century). As a preparation for the Friday fast, people ate heavily on Thursdays and peas are a good match with pork (a favourite that dates back to Iron Age and the Vikings), and pancakes on top of that makes a very rich meal indeed. The Swedish Army still serves peasoup & pancakes every Thursday in their canteens, as do many lunch restaurants. Students also favour this tradition, not least because they enjoy the traditional drink: punch, which is a arak flavoured liqueuer, a speciality for Sweden. Tuesdays are fish days. I have heard that this is because fishermen wouldn´t go out on Sundays (for religious reasons), so Sundays and Mondays the fish market would be closed.

I decided to plan for three weeks at a time, this gives me the right amount of variation I feel that we need. Saturdays are for batch-cooking and inspirational cooking. Sundays are for shopping for and cooking with the mum-in-law. Some dishes can be made in large quantities (like 20 portions) with very little effort, though they take a whole afternoon to make, like peasoup. This is a dish that actually gets better after freezing. Same thing with meat stew or rice porridge. You just have to be there, but can do other things while it cooks. Chutney or jam is the same, and baking too. This is basic stuff, but saves a lot of time later in the week if done in advance. Salads are problematic in winter, hard to transport in below zero (particularly if you don´t have a car), and hard to store. I am planning to use more root vegetables and other sturdier greens.

I have already run this for three weeks and it works really well. I also have a much better idea of where the money goes, and what we need to get. The husband is supportive and I think the overall success is due to me having such a clear goal, an expressed need, compared to other times when I tried to organize our eating. Not only that, we have eaten some very good food lately. I guess I´m just the kind of person who is more inspired within a structure than one who likes to start from zero every day.


  1. I start from zero every day, but your plan looks good to me. Especially the 3-week time frame, which seems to be just long enough.

    I remember fish on Fridays in the school cafeteria when I was little. Here it was because Catholics couldn't eat meat on Fridays but could eat fish, a distinction that still escapes me.

    1. Yes I know, for religious purposes, fish = fasting. Odd.

      I tried both a 2-week plan and 4 (which would have aligned nicely with my pay check) but 3-weeks are just right. Not sure why.