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My favorite things about not eating out…

My family and I are in week 2 of not eating out for the month of January and I’ve been doing a LOT of food prep and cooking.

Today, I created my first cooking video. Part of it took several takes because I couldn’t stop saying “Um” and I forgot what I was going to say. Then when I finally got myself together the dogs started barking. Everyday distractions are part of most of our lives at work and at home, but being distracted while cooking often results in a failed meal and waste of time and money.

The source of the background noise in my first cooking video

I decided to share my recipe for Beef Stew because I love it and my family loves it. They complement me on it every single time. Just as importantly, it’s a meal I can make without a recipe. When there are distractions in the kitchen during meal prep—one kid can’t find their shoes (or sometimes their pants :/), another is playing drums, the dogs are barking, and I just remembered I forgot to cancel a cooking app subscription before they charged me for another month—the last thing I want to do is stare at a cookbook trying to remember where I left off.

Prepping ingredients beforehand avoids the distraction of looking for them while you're trying to prepare a meal

The written recipe just becomes another distraction.

To avoid having to follow a recipe when I’m making stews and soups, I think of the recipe in terms of 4 steps (3 for soups). Once I got a general sense of the amounts of ingredients—for many stews and soups you don’t need exact amounts of most ingredients, I was able to make a variety of stews and soups by following these 4 steps:

1. Brown meat (if using) and onions--this adds a deeper, richer flavor to your stew or soup

2. Add flour (for stews) to thicken broth

3. Add liquids

4. Add the rest of your ingredients such as vegetables, herbs, pasta

Then it’s just a matter of letting it “stew” until it’s done.

So back to not eating out…I’ve realized that by taking away the option of eating out

  • I don’t mind preparing food at home

  • I’ve become more creative and can come up with a decent meal using whatever is on hand

  • I have been going to our local fruit and vegetable market more to make sure we have plenty of fruit and vegetable options, which means my family is eating more fruits and vegetables

  • We have a lot less landfill waste

I like this resolution.

Please take a look at my videos and let me know what you think

4 Steps to Beef Stew

Prepping Beef Stew

· In the Herb Garden

Here’s a link to the “written recipe” for my Beef Stew if you’re interested.

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