When some folks hear the term Slow Food, they think of elaborate, healthy, home made meals prepared from scratch that evening and enjoyed with friends and family. It's a pretty idyllic picture, and maybe a bit unrealistic for the day to day. With just a little bit of planning, though, I really do think that everyone can enjoy the benefits of slow food without necessarily slowing down.
I first started thinking about this because of a comment on a previous post about the slow food movement that felt totally legit. Between juggling kids, work, housework, and all the other things that come with living real life, who has time to cook every meal from scratch?
The idea behind the slow food movement is to eat real food, right? I don't think that has to mean standing over the stove after work every evening. What it means is avoiding that salt- and fat-laden food that comes out of a paper bag from a drive through. This is totally doable, even for folks with hectic schedules. It's all about planning.
One great way to have real, home made meals without cooking every day is to prepare a couple of big dishes over the weekend that your family can enjoy throughout the week - something like a big batch of pasta, a casserole, or something from the slowcooker. I can't say enough good things about using a slow cooker. You just toss in all of the ingredients, and a few hours later, you've got a meal! It's like magic. There are tons of slow cooker cookbooks out there, but I'm a big fan of Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.
Not only does cooking in advance leave you with a fridge full of convenient meal options, it's a great way to get the family involved.
There's no need to hole up in the kitchen by yourself for a cooking marathon, either! Let your kids help with preparation. If they're not old enough to help with the chopping, they can still help mix and bring you ingredients. On top of helping with the meal and getting in some family time, they're learning valuable cooking skills. I still remember helping my pops out in the kitchen, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't cook as much today without the skills I learned back then.
Let's be honest: eating that same casserole for days can get a little boring. The other evening, I was listening to The Splendid Table and picked up another batch cooking tip! They suggested putting your oven to work: roast some veggies and a protein (they suggested chicken, but you could also bake marinated tofu or tempeh instead) all at the same time. Keep everything unseasoned, and you end up with a fridge full of versatile options. You could put everything over rice with a little soy sauce and rice vinegar one night and heat the veggies and a can of beans in some broth to make a quick, tasty stew the next! Veggies and baked tofu or tempeh is also a great topping for a quickie salad.
I know that cooking can seem a bit overwhelming, but starting simple is a great way to get acclimated. Sites like and Epicurious are full of recipe ideas that vary from the simple to the elaborate. Start wherever you're comfortable, and just go from there!
Do you have some favorite batch cooking recipes? We'd love to hear about them in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Canadian Veggie