I’m not much of a creative chef. And even less of an enthusiastic dishwasher. So when I was introduced to one dish lunches, I was in heaven. My kids brag about hot lunches everyday, yet I don’t feel like I want to be a short order cook for three meals a day. Miserly minimalist menus? Not really, but homeschooling means we eat more at home than the typical school aged family, and we really only eat sandwiches about once a week.
I love to cook for people who appreciate a home cooked meal, which is not my kids. They are skeptics of anything in front of them, and I don’t blame them. Daughter is allergic to eggs, son is Celiac/gluten-free, and I am soy free, so we are trained to be fussy about checking what’s in the food.
Looking at the kitchen stove for three meals a day; which also means planning, preparing and cleaning up for three meals; leaves much to be desired. There are so many, many other things than cooking that I would rather be doing.
I’ve tried the meal routine method. Mondays quesadillas, Tuesday soup, Wednesday sandwiches etc. It goes through phases of working, but I lose my creativity with the same old quesadillas. Also, gluten free bread is crumbly and expensive.
About eighteen months ago I read an article by Zen Habits, Leo Babauta, “Wash Your Bowl”, and his followers’ comments on other sites regarding one bowl meals. This became my answer to the noon time meal. I started trying to cook a hot lunch in a single pot, that everyone could eat with just a bowl and a spoon.
I love to be creative with a challenge. Instead of being bored of the same old menu, I started trying to figure out how many different versions of the same dish I could make, by just varying a few spices. Rice and beans are a favorite, and in our individual bowls, we can toss a few condiments over the “same-old” rice and beans and create a new meal. Basic pasta with leftover meat, veggies, or spices and parmesan cheese. Or my favorite, soup! The point being that I aimed to use a single pot to make our meal, no more cooking two versions of each dish, nor preparing two or three items for the meal.
On days I really aim for a minimalist hot lunch, we might end up using the sauce pan, a knife, large spoon, three bowls, three soup spoons, and three drinking glasses. Prep time is simplified as well as clean up. Time is spent eating together, or each slurping soup from behind a book.