Monthly Archives: November 2012

Time Efficient Cooking

Now that Nanowrimo is here, kitchen time needs to be replaced by writing time. Blogging time needs to be replaced by fiction time. Researching new recipes from the world’s greatest runners was great fun, but now I need to be much more efficient. I need to restock my freezer with made ahead meals. So this month, I will primarily cook meals from Mary McDougall’s excellent book, The Quick and Easy Cookbook. While I love playing in the kitchen and eating the results, two months of experimenting and trying to keep up with others has me wanting to take a break and work on some fiction. First was PCRM’s fun Vegan Kickstart, then Vegan Mofo. So while The Further Adventures of Motoman slowly takes shape over November, I’m looking for easy recipes that I don’t have to think about.

How to Maximize Writing Time by Minimizing Kitchen Time

  • The crockpot or slow cooker
  • Volume cooking
  • Freezing
  • Simple ingredients
  • Repetition (monotony)
  • Lower expectations


This is the most amazing invention for the kitchen since the invention of fire. Ten minutes or so of prep time, then it does all the work over several hours, while you write the Great American Novel, or whatever it is you do. Makes absolutely brilliant soups, stews and chilis. Plus, you can cook up batches of Basic Beans to use for other dishes with almost no effort.

Volume Cooking:

Depending on how many you are cooking for, it’s usually about the same amount of prep time to double a dish. Just a little planning turns these leftovers into another meal or two. Crockpots excel at this.


Along with making extra, put some in the freezer for times when everything goes sideways to avoid going out or eating unhealthy food. Also keep on hand bags of frozen vegetables and previously slow cooked beans. Combined with some canned tomatoes and seasonings, and served over rice or a baked potato, you’ve got a meal.

Simple Ingredients:

Quit looking for heirloom parsley or whatever. Go back to basics: carrots, onions, celery, peppers, greens, broccoli etc. Stuff any grocery store has. Keep some frozen bags ready. Basic dried herbs and spices. Bean, potatoes, rice.


Along with simple ingredients and volume cooking comes eating the same thing over and over. As long as you have good veggies and starches you have all the nutrition you need, so quit worrying about the micronutrient du jour. And a little boredom will ensure you eat only when hungry, and eat only what you need. This will save unneeded calories and some time. Think about your pets, they’re pretty happy eating the same thing every day. You’ll survive.

Lower Expectations:

Recovering foodies, I feel your pain. Cooking can be entertainment, and eating definitely is. To save time and enjoy simpler eating, lower expectations, it won’t be gourmet. But with a little attention to seasoning it’ll be just fine. Sometimes it is good to just eat for the necessity of it, freeing up some energy to do other things. But if it’s not working, just add salsa. Salsa fixes everything.

What do you do when you don’t want to spend any more time cooking than you have to?

Next time:

How to stock a kitchen to minimize active cooking time.