It’s no surprise that I’m an advocate of eating in instead of eating out. Since I have control freak tendencies, eating in allows me to control the ingredients in my food and the cost of my food. That said, I understand that homemade meals take time and planning. Actually, I take that back, it doesn’t have to take much time, if you do the planning.
I’m nearly certain that I can crank out a quick dinner in the same time it takes to order carry out or to stop by the neighborhood restaurant, but this has a lot to do with planning. Many people complain about prep time/effort when it comes to eating in. They claim that their lives are too busy for cooking and its “easier” to eat out or get carry out. I think this is nonsense. As with many life style changes, this has a lot to do with daily habits. If you aren’t used to cooking and eating in, then yes, it will be a change to your routine. But as you get used to planning and cooking, it becomes part of your routine. The more you cook, the better at planning and faster at prepping you get. I’ll share some of my tricks for staying true to eating in over my upcoming posts.
Eating in instead Tip 1: PLAN YOUR MEALS. Think about your week. Late night at work on Wednesday? Your daughter’s basketball game on Friday? Plan it out. Make a meal plan as a guide and don’t hate yourself if you need to deviate. For me, time crunches are the most common reason for grabbing some thing on the go (which I almost inevitably regret). Planning ahead helps me avoid the hunger laden, time crunch, desperation induced carry out meal. I plan ahead as much as I can. I know I have to teach classes on Tuesday nights and I like to hit the gym after work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Add that all up, that’s a late night every weekday except Friday. Solution? I make big dinners over the weekend that yield leftovers that can be enjoyed again, or repurposed, and I stretch them to mid-week. Then, I plan to make 1-2 simple meals during the week that will yield enough leftovers to carry us through to the weekend. We might eat in on most nights, but I only cook about 3-4 times a week. I also plan my meals out. This way, if I’m tempted with eating out on another day of the week, I have a friendly reminder that my meals out are already accounted for and built into the plan. With that, I’ll leave you with this week’s meal plan.
Last week’s meal plan included a sun-dried tomato couscous. Below is the recipe. This recipe takes no more than 20 minutes and is heavy on fresh herbs. It works great as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish for dinner. It also works well as a lunch. For a little extra protein as a stand-alone meal, throw in a can of drained, rinsed, chickpeas to stretch the meal into a dinner the following night! Never made couscous before? This is the perfect recipe to give it a shot–it’s easier than pasta!
SUN-DRIED TOMATO COUSCOUS
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup of water or chicken broth
¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 heaping tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, roughly chopped
1 11 oz. can of whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup goat cheese crumbles
In a medium pot, bring 1 cup of water or chicken broth to a boil. Add the couscous, stir, cover and turn off the heat. Let the couscous stand, covered for 13-15 minutes.
While the couscous is standing, chop the herbs and the sun-dried tomatoes.
When the couscous is ready, fluff with a fork. In a large bowl, combine the fluffed couscous with the herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and corn. (This is where you can also throw in some olives, cucumbers or chickpeas—make this your own!). Drizzle and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Top with goat cheese crumbles and enjoy!