One-Bowl Meals for Too Fast Lives

The Hearty Mexican Posole Soup with Radish Cabbage Arugula Salad Garnish (choice of vegan bean or pork version) that is featured for this week’s Delivered Dishes of the Week is an excellent one-bowl meal. See pithy descriptions for the next 2 weeks’ menus on the Menu Archive.

One-bowl meals are a way of life for many of us. They’re quick to eat, easy to make and more portable. When made of whole foods,  they’re also more ‘nutrient-dense’. A cup of nutrient-dense food like beans & greens gives you more nutrition than a comparable serving of something starchy and/or processed.  Looking at it another way, if you’re going to eat a 600-calorie meal, you could eat a 3-4 course meal of nutrient-dense foods instead of one bowl of mac ‘n cheese.

[Of course, there are times when that mac ‘n cheese or ice cream is completely appropriate. For instance, driving past Izzy’s Ice Cream on a 76 F evening last week.]

Anybody who’s followed a weight-loss program knows this. So the challenge is to surround ourselves with more nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, which is hard when nutrient-poor processed foods are everywhere and simply more convenient.

I’ll be teaching to this question on Thu to residents at Next Step Housing, an independent living facility run by Ascension Place, a transitional housing program for women based in North Mpls.  I’ll assess their cooking skills, teach basic knife techniques, and focus on easy, cheap, healthful dishes that you can ‘build’ on for an endless variety of meals.

Tuscan white beans, swiss chard and broccoli.

We’re going to make a couple variations of Beans & Greens (see prior posts). Next Step’s apartment building is near the Cub Grocery on Broadway Ave & Lyndale Ave North, so these women can easily get dried/canned beans and frozen/ fresh greens such as kale, collards, turnip greens and spinach, all year round. On summer weekends, they can go to a satellite Farmers’ Market run by Mpls Farmers’ Market and West Broadway Business & Area Coalition. These women may have never visited a farmers’ market before, so I’m looking forward to introducing them come summer.

We’ll cook large batches as usual. In the end it’s cheaper and more efficient to cook a large batch than a small batch of most dishes. If you’re going to chop 1 onion and 3 carrots, you may as well chop twice as many while you’re at it.

Furthermore, I’m going to suggest that, since they live in the same apartment building, they do a couple things that will make cooking more fun and save money, too:

1) Monthly Soup Swap. Say you have a group of 6 people. Each participant brings a 6-quart pot of home-made soup and 5 quart-size ziploc bags or tupperware. Divide all the soups. Everybody gets 6 quarts of different soups! If you freeze the ziplocs flat, they can be stacked vertically or horizontally in the freezer and will take up less room.

Gorgeous local veg!

2) Buy favorite veggies in bulk at the Farmers’ Market and divide. You can buy 5-10 lb tubs of green beans, tomatoes, et al at a cheaper rate than the little 1-lb trays. The farmers often have blemished ‘seconds’ in large tubs for even lower prices. And, if you go near closing time, they will practically give stuff away rather than pack it up in their trucks.

3) Cook together occasionally. It makes a solitary chore more of a social event, especially for singles, and besides, two cooks are faster than one.

Of course, these are excellent time- & money-savers for everybody, whether you live next door or not!

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