2 min read

Solving Cooking Once and For All

Experiments with meal kits and instant pots lead to sunday meal prep with frozen bags.

I've always had a challenge with cooking. I'm capable of following directions on a recipe and not burning down the house, but that doesn't solve the problem of consistent caloric intake.

Since the start of the pandemic, I have been exploring with different systems to set up a proper meal habit that doesn't break the bank or suck up all my time.

Initially, I would cook ad-hoc - getting excited about a recipe, making it, then eating it all and ending up with an empty fridge and a hungry stomach. This didn't scale well and caused a lot of food waste, extra miscellaneous ingredients and a general dislike of cooking.

My next experiment was signing up for Hello Fresh. It's a meal kit delivery service which has the ingredients portioned already, but it's up to you to do the actual cooking. I found that their portions were quite small, and the three meals a week plan that I signed up for didn't completely close the gap. However, after cooking several dozen recipes I started to see patterns.

Ultimately, solving cooking is like learning any other skill - it requires a foundation that knowledge can attach to. If you already understand how to build a house, learning plumbing isn't hard. In my case, I had zero foundations for cooking, but the meal-kit helped me create those. Simple, rote repetition taught me common tricks, techniques, and approaches that then scale out to other recipes.

My latest experiment is with going all in on meal-prep. I'm lucky enough to be flexible with food, so I'm perfectly OK eating the same meal 18 times in a row. I received an Instant Pot for the holidays, so I've been combining that with frozen meal prep. The concept is simple - with an instant pot, you just dump in all the ingredients and punch a button. You can take this one step further by measuring everything into large bags and freezing the raw ingredients. Then, when you are hungry you can simply place the frozen raw brick into the Instant Pot and have a fresh, healthy dinner less than an hour later.

I like reading https://pinchofyum.com/freezer-meals and  https://www.mealprepsunday.com/ - so far they have had good recipes that aren't disappointing.

I've supplemented the instant pot meals with some light meal prep, where I bake chicken and veggies and put them into single serving containers.