It’s 5:00 pm and time to make dinner. When cooking meals for my family, I can easily scramble and look around for what is in the pantry and fridge and come up with a meal in a decent amount of time. This is not always the case in the raw food kitchen. There is a little bit of planning that needs to happen to create a flow and ease of meal making.
Meal planning is a huge plus! I meal plan as I write my grocery list. This has helped in a few areas of kitchen management. I have a better idea of what is in my kitchen and there is less that gets lost in the depth of the back of the fridge inevitably turning bad and getting tossed to the compost heap. I have a clear list of what is needed at the grocery store as well. From that plan, I write in when I need to soak various things as well. This is a huge help. That way, when I go to make my recipes, I have everything needed and it is ready to go. Soaking time was one of the hardest adjustments for me to make because of having to plan ahead. Make it easy on yourself and at dinner time while you are in the kitchen preparing, start soaking the nuts that require 8 or so hours soak time for recipes you are making the next day. In the morning is when I soak nuts and seeds with shorter times for recipes I am making that day. Getting that down definitely streamlines kitchen prep.
How much to make? I like to figure out my meals for one weeks worht of time and then I break that down into two days of preparing. I like to make one or two dressings for salad, a dip, a pate and two main meals. I then have on hand sald ingredients that vary week to week to keep things interesting. Doing this helps to cut down on trips to the grocery store. I had found I was going every day to the market and the kids were none too happy with that scenario. Planning in this way has afforded me to go to the market twice a week and produce is fresh and I spend less $$$$ on the whole because of planning ahead of time. Ooooo, and my hubby likes that!
Another consideration for the organized raw kitchen is equipment and food placement. I have my vitamix and food processor out on the counter all the time. This way I do not avoid or delay making a dish because I don’t want to haul out my heavy equipment. It is out and ready. All other tools like knives and cutting boards are in an easy location to grab quick. I keep a large fruit bowl on the counter that the kids can reach and is easily visible. On the lowest shelf of my fridge also lies fruit and cut veggies and dip. When the fridge is opened, the foods they can choose from are right there at eye level. The same goes for the pantry. The lower shelf has snacks like dried fruit and grawnola or museli mix for them to grab. The next shelf up has seaweeds that River often grabs. The point is to make it visible and easy to grab. Also, take note if you are not happy with the foods you or your kids are eating to stop bringing them into the house. If there are only healthy choices, you will be happy with their choices they are making when home. Do make the selections things they like and vary them. Also think of the different fruits and veggies in season and vary your shelves to fit what is available locally and offer lots of color variety.
Keep it fresh! I like to plan to make one (at least) new recipe a week. This gives us variety and can add to our list of recipes we like while not stressing out the kiddos who like to know what to expect most of the time for meals. As you go through this process, keep a folder or notebook or system that works for you with the recipes you love. You may keep a section of recipes to try as well. I write on the recipe like a footnote who in the family liked the dish and any modifications I made or would like to make. If the recipe is not good put it in the recycle bin or mark in the recipe book that you didn’t like it so you don’t waste time again making it later on down the road. In no time at all you will have a fantastic favorites recipe collection to go to for meal planning and when you are feeling at a loss for what to make. Bu please, don’t forget to share!! We love to hear about your favorites!