Cooking real food

Making bread ©Janet Allen
It takes a little time to make bread, but not too much

Cooking real food is perfectly doable, and we did it even when we were both working and had young children.

Of course, "doable" isn't quite as easy as popping a frozen pizza in a microwave, but poor health robs a lot of time and isn't as much fun as cooking. It's a matter of prioritizing something that is very important to health: real food.

But even though we cook from scratch virtually everything we eat, we don't spend unreasonable amounts of time in the kitchen, just enough to eat healthfully. We're willing to make the tradeoff of some time and effort in exchange for good health, environmental responsibility, and good taste.

And foods and recipes that aren't also delicious don't make the cut! We enjoy tasty food!

Making it doable

Our daughter helping make bread 30 years ago ©Janet Allen
Our daughter helping make bread 30 years ago

Even now without regular jobs, we're still busy with a variety of commitments, and cooking takes time. But we've found ways to make it doable.

And has anyone calculated the time it takes to drive to a restaurant, wait to be served, and then drive home again? In that amount of time, we can cook enough food for a week of meals.

The key to keeping it down to a reasonable amount of time in the kitchen, we've found, is to eat more simply, gather some simple, healthy recipes, and cook in quantity. And make the results worth the time it takes!

For us, it's been important to cook at times other than meal time. That's the most stressful time to cook and is probably the main reason people resort to processed food. It's much easier to just grab one of our frozen meals from our big-batch cooking (preferably ahead of time so it thaws on its own in the refrigerator), then heat it up in the microwave. This has all the convenience of fast food.

Simple recipes

Our son helping make bread 25 years ago  ©Janet Allen
Our son keeping up the tradition 25 years ago

First, we keep it simple. We aren't making 16-step gourmet recipes, just simple, delicious food.

Besides our simple recipes, some foods are just naturally simple. For example, a piece of fruit is a delicious dessert, but nothing could be simpler. Carrot sticks can be a good vegetable course or just an easy snack.

Our homemade bread is a good example of a simple recipe. John has made almost all of our bread for—literally—decades now. It takes a little time, but not nearly as much time as people think. And who wouldn't agree that homemade bread is more delicious than anything you could buy in the store! The taste and fragrance of bread fresh from the oven epitomizes the "good life."

Cooking in quantity

Grandson making bread ©Janet Allen
Our daughter's son starts the third generation of bread-baking

Then one of the main things we do is to make double or triple—sometimes even quadruple—recipes, then freeze all but one or two meals' worth. We dirty about the same number of dishes, measuring spoons, etc. fixing a large quantity as we do fixing a "normal" amount, and it doesn't take much more time to assemble the ingredients no matter what size of the recipe. This is a huge timesaver.

Again, our bread is a good example. Do we make one loaf of bread? No! We make four loaves at a time (and we used to make six loaves in the past). It doesn't take much more work to make four loaves than one in either the baking or the cleanup, and we always have bread available .

Saving energy We try to save energy with our cooking practices.