A Few Insights

A few weeks ago I set out to simplify cooking and shopping by creating a Capsule Kitchen list.  Each week I buy the essentials plus a few fresh ingredients that I re-use throughout the week.  

I'm impressed by how much this simple list is helping streamline shopping and cooking.  For example:

  1. It's saving me time.  If I don't have time to write out a list, I take a few photos of the fridge for reference and go to the store knowing my list is online and easy-to-access.  
  2. I'm not worried about forgetting things.  Considering I'm usually shopping with at least one kid (and I'm just not as sharp as I used to be) this is a big deal.  It's nice knowing all the essentials are already listed so I don't come home without what I need. 
  3. I'm not worried about wasting food.  Since I'm only buying things on the list, and I'm focusing on ingredients that are versatile, I'm saving money and not wasting food. 
  4. I'm easily able to make delicious, fast meals.

Let's look at last week, for example.  Here's what I bought or already had in the fridge:

ingredients.jpg

Note: you can assume all vegetables have health benefits so I called out a few reasons why these items made the cut other than just because they're good for us. 

  • Purple Cabbage -  my three-year-old eats it because it's purple, it lasts several weeks, it can be prepped ahead
  • Cauliflower - lasts a long time, can be eaten raw or cooked, it's in-season and less expensive right now
  • Potatoes - on sale at the farmer's market, delicious, a great food for my 1-year-old since they're soft and loaded with good stuff
  • Limes, cilantro, and jalapeño - I already had limes so I added cilantro and jalapeño to make one of my favorite flavor trios
  • Onions and garlic - I had these on hand already, they easily add flavor to everything and last a long time
  • Bell Pepper - already had this in the fridge, also beautiful, and easy-to-prep
  • Greens (Swiss Chard and Kale) - I already had a little Swiss Chard and added some kale, both are hearty and versatile greens
  • Ground turkey - easy-to-prep and cook, my kids usually will eat it 
  • Salmon - easy-to-prep and cook, freezes well, defrosts quickly
  • Italian butter beans - I passed this booth at the farmer's market and had to try them (these meals would work with any beans)

I started the week by making two reusable components:

purpleslaw.jpg

1. A Purple Cabbage Slaw - I prepped the slaw but didn't add the oil or lime juice until mealtime so it lasted all week.  I left out the scallions and it still tasted great.  

 
butterbeans.jpg

2. A pot of plain Italian Butter Beans - I often use canned beans (without anything added) but this week I made these beauties.  Follow the package directions or try the slow cooker method for beans.  If you're new to beans, check out three more ideas here.  

 

By having these components pre-made, I was able to easily throw together a number of meals for breakfast and lunch such as... 

Beans + Slaw + .... (try chicken or feta)

Beans + Slaw + .... (try chicken or feta)

Beans + Greens + Garlic + Fried Egg

Beans + Greens + Garlic + Fried Egg

Tomato + Greens + Beans + Scrambled Eggs

Tomato + Greens + Beans + Scrambled Eggs

 

I was also able to turn a boring dinner into something fantastic, like these turkey tacos:

Ground Turkey (sautéed with onions, red bell pepper, and a touch of cumin) + Slaw + Shredded Cheese and Avocado

Ground Turkey (sautéed with onions, red bell pepper, and a touch of cumin) + Slaw + Shredded Cheese and Avocado

And once that ground turkey was already made, why not re-use it in a skillet?

Ground Turkey (sautéed with onions, red bell pepper, and a touch of cumin) + Black Beans + Greens + Melted Cheese and Avocado

Ground Turkey (sautéed with onions, red bell pepper, and a touch of cumin) + Black Beans + Greens + Melted Cheese and Avocado

 

About halfway through the week, I realized I still needed to use the potatoes and cauliflower.  So I roasted them in a little avocado oil (I like avocado oil because the flavor is neutral and it can be used at a high-heat) and used them in a few ways like these:

Roasted Veggies + Extra Peas + Salmon + Rice + Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette (1/4 cup olive oil, juice from 1/2 lemon plus more to taste, and 1 clove crushed garlic - dressing serves 4)

Roasted Veggies + Extra Peas + Salmon + Rice + Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette (1/4 cup olive oil, juice from 1/2 lemon plus more to taste, and 1 clove crushed garlic - dressing serves 4)

Open-faced Omelette + Greens + Roasted Vegetables

Open-faced Omelette + Greens + Roasted Vegetables

Overall it was a good week.  Easy, colorful, meals, not a lot of wasted ingredients and I tried a few new combos (for example who knew potatoes and cauliflower in an omelette could be so good?!).  

So tell me, is this process helpful for you to see?  Please leave a comment and let me know. 

Happy Cooking!

Kelly