Thursday, November 26, 2009

Binge Cooking

Being in pain makes mealtime a challenge.

My boyfriend tends to eat whatever is easiest, and that is too often burritos from the supermarket next door. While I am grateful that we have a market so close, the proximity does make it hard to resist the temptations of an easy meal when my head is throbbing and I keep crying at the latest talking baby commercial. (I don't know why.) We've had this mealtime problem, and subsequent argument many times. I say we can't afford to be buying burritos for every meal and he retorts that no one wants to eat ramen all the time. I remind him of the stove, fridge, pots and pans just a room away. If he accepts my challenge, he will use every dish and utensil in the house making spaghetti (True story.) and then regale me with tall tales of adversity and bravery in the face of boiling noodles. Between mouthfuls he details every ingredient and stirring technique that his genius probably invented on the spot. Once he's finished his gourmet meal he lays back on the couch and promises to do the dishes later. Which never happens. Seriously. We've had standoffs. I am possibly pathologically stubborn and he is the poster boy for adult ADHD. This has led to our kitchen being a angry hazardous waste zone for weeks until one of us finally caves/focuses long enough to get it done.

But there's good news! We've grown as people and are tired of tantruming at each other. We agree that I cook more logically and consistently well, but can't be counted on to shower every day, let alone cook a healthy meal. Thus the concept of binge cooking was born.

Cooking large meals and freezing liberally has proven to be the easiest way for us to eat healthily. My kitchen adventures usually start the same way: what ingredients do we have, and what could we get for cheap? Once I have my "recipe" and ingredients list, I organize. The more prep I do, the easier it is on my body come cooking day. A few days preceding the day I plan to cook I make lists, double-check the pantry, reference allrecipes and recipezaar, and make sure all the supplies I need are clean and where I expect them to be. The actual day of cooking is never set in stone, though, I always give myself a range of days to choose from, and plan ahead of time. Then, if I wake up on a possible cooking day with a killer migraine, it's not a big deal if I do nothing in the kitchen all day but refill my water glass. And if I have a surprisingly good day a day or two before I had planned to get my hands dirty, I push it up! Can't waste those spoons, now can we?!

The cooking takes anywhere from three to eight hours, the cleanup and packing another two or so. By the end of the night my head is throbbing, my back is aching and I feel a little delusional from the effort. This last binge, I fell asleep with a migraine that night, it woke me a few times, which was new, and I woke with it in the morning, which is really rare for me. But I rolled with it that next day: rocked the ice packs and spent the next 18 hours focused intently on hulu to keep from freaking out over the pain.

These cooking binges always hurt, but I don't mind the pain as much when I've got something to show for it. Not having to cook for the next two weeks is worth it. I try to keep the fridge and freezer stocked with lasagna, chili, bread, casseroles, enchiladas and anything else my little brain can dream up and google.

Binge cooking has saved our relationship, and my sanity. That and the dishwasher.

I'm going to continue this post, focusing more on the economic reasons behind cooking in bulk and even a recipe or two over at Focusing on Reality, my non-head blog that I largely neglect. See you there!


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I don't do complete meals but I freeze up items that are on sale like veggies. My favorite is Vidalia Onions, I chop, slice, dice and freeze in bags and just have to pull one out for a recipe. Looking forward to more tips!!

Stephanie said...

That's a great idea, too. The fewer steps involved, the easier it is! Thanks for the suggestion.

You've been dealing with the pain game longer than I have, so I'd be interested to hear what little tips and tricks YOU have up YOUR sleeve. hint, hint. :)