Lamb Vindaloo Soft Taco /

It’s a matter of what’s on hand

I really believe that to live well you have to cook.

You have to.

Because if you don’t, you’re subject to what others cook, and that means either eating pre-prepared and processed foods from the supermarket or eating out at restaurants—the first of which is ultimately unhealthy and the second of which is expensive and potentially unhealthy.

(It’s not that I’m a big health nut—but I do like to have a body that feels good and does what I want it to do. And I’m not against an occasional pre-prepared or restaurant meal, but I wouldn’t want to eat that way all the time.)

Sure, people like Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie don’t have to cook—they can pay someone to cook food that’s tasty and healthy for them. But that’s the exception. Us mere mortals, it’s either cook, buy crappy pre-made and processed stuff, or eat out.

So I repeat – you have to cook.

I also believe that, if everyone cooked, it could actually save the world. It might not be the only thing that could save the world, but it’s one thing. If everyone cooked – real, quality food from smart, PC sources that people ate together at a table—imagine the ramifications on the environment, the economy, on health and well-being, on relationships and the workings of society in general. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So – you have to cook, and if you do, maybe it’d even save the world.

But, you say, whining a bit, cooking is hard.

Well, it’s not hard as in difficult, but it does take time. So how can you save time when you cook? It’s a matter of what’s on hand.

As anyone who’s ever been to one of my cooking classes knows, I have all kinds of amazing things squirreled away in my freezer. Nuggets of pesto and romesco sauce that I’ve frozen in ice cube trays and stashed in zip-top bags—so that the next time I’m grilling a chicken breast or topping a pizza, I can turn my meal into something fancy feeling without a lot of extra bother.

I have compound butters in my freezer for the same reason. What’s compound butter, you ask? That’s a good topic for a post, actually, so for now, suffice to say it’s flavored butter – shave off a pat, put it on top of a just-cooked steak or fish filet, and, quickly and easily, a feels-like-a-special-treat dinner is served.

Often when I cook, I cook extra just so I can have tasty things on hand. It’s way less than twice the work to make twice the recipe. So do that. Then stash the leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

For example, the photo in this post is yesterday’s lunch, a lamb vindaloo soft taco. Did I cook up a batch of lamb vindaloo just to make a taco out of it? Of course not. But I had leftovers. So I put them on a tortilla, and topped them with tomato wedges (from the back yard), sour cream (leftover from another recipe), Sriracha (always on hand), and cilantro sprigs (they looked good at the farmers market). Lunch was awesome—and it was all because I had things on hand.

So cook, and save the planet. But don’t work hard. Have things on hand.

Buy what looks good at the farmers market even if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it.

Make more than you need when you cook and stash the leftovers for later.

It’s simple, really. Surround yourself with delicious options so that cooking for yourself is more attractive than not.

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