Tips: Bulk Cooking (Overview)
Before I get into the food that keeps me going, I’ll cover some basic tips for making feeding yourself as easy as possible, before the cooking even starts. This covers post covers what can be cooked in bulk, once or twice a week. Bulk cooking can give you a 20 minute head start, six days a week.
The first think you will find with vegetarian cooking, is that it is actually much cleaner for the kitchen. I’m not sure what it is about meat but it will quickly cause all but the most sterilized kitchens to become pungent and sticky.
This translates to food storage. Vegetarian food, being somehow less likely to develop dangerous bacteria, can be kept much longer and at much less cold temperatures, which makes it much more convenient and energy efficient to store food. In fact vegetarians can do away with the freezer altogether – not a bad thing, seeing as so much energy is wasted these days keeping frozen vegetables frozen.
So the here’s a list of foods that can be kept for about a week in the fridge, making for very quick meals in the meantime. I’ll be expanding on each of these items to include cooking techniques that allow for easy adding, in the next few posts.
Refrigerated rice is perfect for a wet meal such as a congee breakfast. It’s also perfect for fried rice – as it’s easily crumblable and fryable.
- Precooked vegetables
Some vegetables need more cooking than others. If you like potatoes, for example, some cooked potatoes will keep in the fridge and can later be added to many types of meals.
- Pulses, legumes
Pulses and legumes, such as Chickpeas, Lentils, and other high protein, high iron foods can be kept for a few days, or frozen indefinately to be added easily to soups etc later. A few spoons of a brew of a well cooked lentils can boost the flavor, texture and value of a pasta dish or sauce. Chickpeas can easily be added to stir fries and soups.
Peas, mung beans, split peas and beans can be soaked indefinitely in the fridge before cooking, as long as the water is changed at least every three or four days.
- Fake Meats
If you want to go the fake meat road – and not everybody does but it can be handy sometimes – it will make cooking during the week easier to have the fake meat readily prepared. A fake ham or sausage can be cut into sections or slices and left in an open dish (I find that with fake meats some air circulation adds to their lifespan in the fridge).Fake meats that need soaking can be soaked in bulk, but before refrigerating, make sure to squeeze the majority of excess water out completely, to maximize lifespan. The more water sitting inside the food, the more bacteria can develop.
EDIT 16/7/08: I just realized I had a bowl of soaked TVP in the fridge, getting on three weeks old. How was it? Perfect. Dried, most substances will have an indefinite shelf like. Partially soaked, I’m not sure, seems pretty long :) Nice to throw in any kind of fry up.
Tofu can be cut up and marinated in diluted flavored soy sauce, or just left to float in water. The water will need to be changed every two days though, so keep it at the front of the fridge where you can keep an eye on it. Ideally the water it floats in will be clear and colorless – yellow water means you really have to change that water.
Stay tuned (or follow the links as they appear in this post) for a little more info on cooking some of these.