The COOK90 challenge of 2020 has begun! Starting today, we will be cooking three meals a day every single day until the end of January-- with only three days where we will be eating out. This is a daunting challenge even for me. I use the delivery apps on my phone more often than I care to admit, and I am a sucker for canned soup during the work week. With my new job on the horizon, two of my cheat meals are already sold to my orientation period, where I cannot bring my own food with me.
So, how do we curb the appeal of mobile delivery apps and fast food? The easiest idea is to just delete the app at the start of your COOK90 period. Doordash, Grubhub, Postmates, and UberEats are disappearing from my phone as I’m writing this article. I find that I often go digging into the recesses of my apps to look at the lists of available restaurants at even the slightest pangs of hunger, so this preventative measure should be helpful. Then, there comes the meal planning.
The central tenant of this years challenge is to cook more sustainably-- that is, to use less of the things that create the biggest strain on our agricultural system, like beef, pork, and chicken. Fish have become a cornerstone of more sustainable, slightly carnivorous cooking, so it could be a good time to incorporate a pescetarian meal each week. Here at Eating Normal, we will be doing one pescetarian meal and one entirely meatless meal each week to hold ourselves to this year’s standard.
The pantry will be your ace in the hole when it comes to cooking every single day. Staying well stocked will make those dinners after a long shift much easier. This doesn’t mean go insane at the grocery store every week. What you’ve got in there now will probably work for most people. I’ve got boxes of pasta in there that moved halfway across the country with me in November that have GOT to go, and COOK90 is a good way to get that done.
Cooking for COOK90 is defined as combining at least two ingredients to ‘cook’ something. This can be as simple as a sandwich, and your breakfast is the only meal that is allowed to be the same thing over and over. This is great, because I’m terrible at breakfast as it is. You are also encouraged to never cook the same recipe more than once outside of that dreaded breakfast window. This means that I can’t roast a whole chicken the same way every week.
This means that I’ve got to learn to spatchcock that son of a bitch. This means I’ve got to get creative with thighs and wings and breasts and spines if I want to keep buying a whole chicken every single week without failure. And you know what? That’s the most exciting thing about COOK90. We’re going to get more adventurous with familiar ingredients that we keep in our houses every single day.
I have more than twenty cookbooks on the shelves as a result of our long running Cookbook of the Month program, so there is no shortage of inspiration in this house. If you’re running low yourself, the internet is full of recipe blogs and websites like mine to give you ideas. On the days you’ve got time, do your research. Plan your meals for the week on a day off, and shop for what you don’t already have.
I’m going to do my best to be faithful to my shopping list and not go off the rails the minute I walk through the automatic doors at the grocery store. Though I have not made a food waste article since the move, this is still something I am trying to curb going into the new year. We’ll discuss this more as COOK90 goes on, and I believe that the simple task of trying to cook the entire month will help reduce waste in my home with as much impact as many other options we can explore.
Happy New Year, and happy cooking!
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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