Matt and I have been together for nearly 5.5 years, living together for 4, and married for almost a year. During this time, I’ve been asked one question over and over again: what do you cook?
Most of my family and friends know that I’m a vegetarian (and that Matt is definitely not), and it seems to be completely baffling to people that we could ever eat a meal together, let alone the same meal! The assumption is that meal time in our house is exceedingly difficult – either Matt’s wasting away from lack of protein (he’s not) or that I’m super picky and have to specially make all of my meals separate from Matt (I don’t). I’m sure there are tons of people who are gluten free or with allergies that get the same kinds of questions – and it gets old – mostly because…
Dinner around our house is actually pretty simple! I’ve developed some tricks that keep us both full of delicious, healthful food and streamline the dinner-making process. Do I make dinner every night? No! We’re still normal. But it is nice to be able to quickly make things that we both love and that still meet my dietary restrictions.
1. Identify likes and dislikes. Dietary restrictions aside, we all have things we really love and absolutely can’t stand. Matt can’t stand mushrooms, but loves asparagus. Getting Matt to eat tofu with me doesn’t happen a whole lot, but it happens more often if there aren’t any mushrooms involved and i throw some asparagus in the dish! (If you were wondering, I can’t stand lima beans or bananas, but those are easier to avoid. 🙂 )
2. Use easy cooking styles. Easy might be the wrong word – I mean cooking styles where it’s easy to make multiple things at once. Grilling and roasting in particular come to mind – it’s pretty easy to throw multiple pans of food into the oven to roast at once; it’s also easy to put multiple things on the grill at the same time. Contrast grilling some veggies and burgers with making two different risottos at the same time – grilling is totally easier, right? Using “easier” cooking styles will make dinner time with different eating habits a snap.
3. Learn to make a few staples of your partner’s diet. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve mastered cooking chicken breasts a couple of different ways as well as cooking sausages. I know those might seem basic, but I’ve been a vegetarian for the vast majority of my cooking years! It makes me feel good that I can cook things that Matt really enjoys, whether I enjoy them or not. Matt and I are still working on getting him up to speed on tofu, but he’s gotten good at making some black bean dishes for me, too.
4. Embrace Flexitarian cooking. The definition of flexitarian varies, apparently, but I use it to mean flexible meals that can easily be made meatless or meat-full (and often times both!), similar to the philosophy used in Peter Berley’s cookbook, The Flexitarian Table (which is full of delicious things, by the way). There are two easy ways to do this: find good sauces that can be made alone and then added to your proteins and veggies of choice, or find side dishes that pair well with different kinds of proteins. I do this almost every day.
5. When in doubt – roast some garlic.
Because everyone loves roasted garlic. Yum.
So that’s how we do it around our house! And now I have a blog post to point my family members towards when they inevitably ask what we eat at the next family gathering. 🙂