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Coach 'N Tell: Cook More Takeaways: Man-made Mondays, Prep for Productivity

Coach 'N Tell: Kitchen Momentum

Great news, folks: Marsha's husband Jason is so excited about the home cooking he's eating, he wants to jump in and help Marsha keep the kitchen momentum* going. In fact, tonight he has started Man-made Mondays, the night where he cooks dinner.

(OK, they haven't named it that, but go with me on it.) Jason has Mondays off, so Monday is a great day for him to cook, and it lets Marsha come home after work to a him-made mea

l.

This evening's meal will be Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry which he picked out of the March issue of Cooking Light. Marsha sounded a little nervous about how it's going to go, which seemed odd as Jason's no stranger to stir fry. But Jason's stir fries usually involve meat, a vegetable and soy sauce. This recipe is quick and easy, but it calls for ingredients like hoisin, ginger, and garlic which are new to Jason.

Marsha has pulled the ingredients to make it easy for him, but he's still got a little performance anxiety. I think that's a good thing; the recipe is solid and if his nerves don't get the better of him, he's going to feel really good about this dish.

As for Marsha, after cooking together for the last month, her main take away was that the best way to cook more was to prep more. She's now grocery shopping once a week (instead of every other week) to keep the produce fresh. Sure, it takes more time, but she's saving money if she isn't throwing out bad produce.

She finds that if she makes Wednesdays and weekends her big cooking times, she can prep for meals on other days which makes cooking easy. For example, this week she prepared the peppers and pork for Pork Tenderloin with Red and Yellow Peppers a day ahead, which made it very easy for her to finish the meal the next day.

"Before, when I felt like I had to cook a huge meal when I got home, I wanted to pull my hair out. Now it's easier; half the meal is done," says Marsha.

She had more friends over last weekend (apparently the word got out that there's great homemade food at Marsha's), and she prepared the Beef Tagine wtih Butternut Squash. It's a terrific dish for entertaining; it has that what-are-you-cooking-it-smells-incredible-in-here effect.

 
The friends who enjoyed the tagine are friends who she often has dinner with, but they usually order a pizza. Marsha has raised the stakes, and her friend has promised to return the favor.

So one month after setting a goal to cook more; Marsha is cooking more. Her friends are happy, her husband has taken over a cooking night, and she's no longer purchasing (expensive) frozen meals to get them through the week.

"I want to help people understand that a working family doesn’t have to depend on boxed or frozen meals. If you plan, it can be easy to have good meals with two working parents, without cooking for two hours every night."

Well done, Marsha. I think you just did.

* Tip of the referential hat to my friend Tamar Haspel, who used the term Pantry Momentum in her cookbook, The Dreaded Broccoli. I love the concept, and use the term all the time, but I want to give credit where credit is due.