Tips for Conquering the Kitchen

When Penn and I started working from home a few years ago, we both gained what we called the “Work From Home 15.”  There was a well-worn path between our desks and the pantry. Writer’s Block paired well with cheese and crackers. An impossible deadline was eased with some chips. A fight about how the next video should be edited? That was the job for the cookies I hid in the frozen broccoli wrapper in the freezer.

Which, if you need to hide treats, is sort of genius. 

We both thought the higher numbers on the scale were all muscle. Is there such a thing as being too body positive? Seriously. Please laugh with me. Luckily, we were able to rein in the trips to the pantry and fit into our jeans again, but it took an annoying amount of work. Let me be clear, it took work for me. Penn drank one green smoothie and lost it all in a day. True story. 

I’ve read too many Facebook posts from friends complaining about the “Covid-15” they are gaining. So I thought I would share how we’ve conquered the kitchen while staying at home the last two months. (Also let’s be real, we have totally allowed ourselves to enjoy pizza delivery and treats from Lola’s baking hobby!)

Our Tips to Keep Healthy(ish)

  1. Batch your dinners: Before quarantine, Sunday was my go-to meal prep day to get ahead on the week. Life was always so busy with kids’ sporting events, school, and work (which sort of makes me question why I can’t get it together with all this “free time”) that I had to do it to survive. Even if it isn’t Sunday, one thing you can do is batch your dinners. If you have a recipe that takes a bit longer to cook, make something while you wait. For example, I have an awesome roast recipe that takes about 2 hours. While it cooks in the oven sometimes I make another meal on the stove for the next night. If you play your cards right, you might get three dinners (two options and a leftover night) just from one round of cooking. 
  2. Ramp up roasting: Roasting vegetables ahead of time is one of the easiest ways I get healthy options on the table. Create a huge pan of chopped brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potato, russet potatoes, and cauliflower. Coat them in avocado oil with salt, pepper, and your favorite seasoning, then roast them for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip them halfway through to make sure they don’t burn. Now you have sides for lunch or dinner just by reheating in the microwave.
  3. Make ahead breakfast: On the weekends, my kids love to have pancakes to break up our normal breakfast routine. A few years ago I discovered that you can make the batter the night before and I never looked back. There’s nothing like sipping your morning coffee and only having to worry about flipping flapjacks instead of cleaning up a ton of ingredients. There are so many other overnight oatmeal, muffin tin eggs, and overnight casseroles that you can explore to help make life easy the next day too! 
  4. Prep your fruit and veggies– One thing I love about my Mom coming to visit (we miss her so much!) is that she always washes and cuts fresh fruit for snacking. You know my Mom is here if there is a bowl of berries on the counter or diced cantaloupe in the fridge. It helps us make healthy choices during the day instead of grabbing for a bag of chips.  I’ll grab sliced peppers and celery if they are already prepped. If they are still in their wrappers from the store, I’m more tempted to reach for the “easy” processed snacks. 
  5. Take an inventory: When quarantine first started I had a friend of mine make an entire inventory of all the meals she could make with what she had on-hand first. Creating a list of dinners you can make for the next week or two weeks helps take the guesswork out of what you are going to cook that night. You just tack your list to the fridge and cross off the meals as you make them. We only want to shop once a week, and we want to use all we buy – so by the end of the week it forces us to get creative. 

How are you staying sane in the kitchen? Have you been able to venture out into restaurants yet or are you mostly eating at home? Tell me your hacks in the comments!

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