Up until recently lunch was a simple affair with not much thought necessary. In college it was mostly sandwiches or canned soup – a last minute ordeal. Then it was leftovers for me and my husband or toddler for a few years, which really just meant making a normal recipe for 4 and refrigerating what was left.
And now if I don’t put something substantial on the table by 12:30 I am accosted by hungry wolves. Yes, folks, lunch has, in general, become our main meal of the day. This works well because I do most of my kitchen work in the morning and get much of the cooking, baking, and cleaning up out of the way. Also, since we live in a hot climate, I can skip the slaving over a hot stove in triple digit temperatures bit.
But, and this is a substantial caveat, I have got to have a plan to cram breakfast, clean up, prepping, and cooking all into those few hours in which I am fueled by coffee and the deep desire to avoid the above mentioned hungry pack of wolves.
Here’s how I’m navigating that.
With hungry bellies to fill and bodies that need nourishing, I generally stick with a few rules.
Protein. This is often our meat for the day, sometimes stretched with beans or eggs. Other times, when we haven’t eaten them for breakfast, it is eggs.
Starch. If I’m on the ball, this is a sourdough baked good or a soaked millet. When I’m not on the ball it is usually good old white rice, sweet potatoes, or gluten-free pasta.
Vegetables. I put much more emphasis on raw/fermented than cooked vegetables. So, it is one of the aforementioned as a stand-alone or along with a cooked vegetable.
Now, I realize in reading this that you might assume that I put a few dishes on the table and everyone enjoys their meat and veg and salad and potatoes in different realms on the plate. For the sake of simplicity and clean-up and my sanity, that is not how it goes. Generally speaking, all of the cooked food is contained in one or two dishes.
Which is why my children think the presence of foods that exist separately, but on the same plate makes for an absolute feast. But hey, I still wash most of the dishes.
How It Plays Out
We eat a lot of tacos and stews and soups and one-pot dishes, but always with something fresh on the side. Specifically…
- I might cook up corn tortillas, throw together some meat or bean filling, and then serve it all with cortido or a fresh slaw.
- If there is a stew or other one-pot dish then there is often a salad or ferment to go along with it.
- We often eat a quick meat stir-fry with whatever is in the garden and then I cook up a pot of rice and serve kimchi with it.
- I often soak beans and let them cook throughout the morning while I throw together corn bread or a nice salad and we eat it all with sour cream and lacto-fermented hot sauce.
- Sometimes it’s just baked sweet potatoes and whatever of the protein and veg options we have floating around to top it all off.
And here is some foreshadowing for you. I almost always cook more than I think we can eat, in order to use them in the next meal.
I rarely go out of my way to prepare snack foods for our family. I will, however, make extra sourdough pancakes or homemade tortillas and dole them out in the middle of the afternoon with a jar of natural peanut butter.
So, snacks are generally an ingredient – fruit, nuts, cheese, or vegetables with leftover homemade salad dressing. I know that makes me sound like health nut helicopter mom, but it’s mostly for the sake of careful budgeting and simplicity that we stick with those things.
Snacks usually happen somewhere around 4:00 p.m. Because of evening chores and longer days in the garden for a good part of the year, we don’t usually eat supper until after 6:00 p.m. And that is where that extra food from lunch comes in to play.
To be continued…