A comment from reader Sarah S:
I'd love to read a post, or an ongoing series on what is currently in your heavy rotation.
Thanks for the idea! First, a quick explanation for newer readers on what "heavy rotation" actually means. From my post Seven Ways to Get Faster at Cooking, where I first used the phrase:
Build a short list of your cooking "hits"--recipes that are both popular with your family and that you can make quickly and easily. Then regularly rotate one or more of these hit recipes into your weekly menu. The key here: if you make the dish regularly you'll get faster and more efficient at making it until you can practically do it blindfolded.
I've found that if you have a short list of five or six truly easy-to-make "hits" and rotate one of them into your menu each week, you can use this system indefinitely without getting sick of any of the hit recipes. Believe me, that's a far cry from a typical radio station that plays the same song every three hours! Moreover, you will find that you get quicker and quicker in finding the ingredients in the store, keeping them handy at home, and preparing and scaling up the meal itself. If you double the batch size of your heavy rotation recipes, you can efficiently take care of 1/3 or more of your meals this way, depending on the size and appetite of your family.
If I might channel my inner Michael Pollan, we could boil this down to: Find easy recipes. Make them. Not too often.
Now, to answer Sarah's question. Right now, the recipes we've got on heavy rotation are:
1) Easy Lentil Soup (the last few times I've made this I've included four cups of homemade rich chicken stock, and this soup has turned out better than ever).
2) Hilariously Easy Slow Cooker Bean Stew
3) Black Beans and Rice
4) Homemade Burritos
What grabbed me about Sarah's comment was this: it made me realize that here at Casual Kitchen we have our own rotation of heavy rotation recipes. How meta! And there are specific commonalities to these heavy rotation collections beyond just their being easy-to-make recipes.
For example, usually our heavy rotation recipes include at least one highly scalable soup or stew (often vegetarian) that leaves us plenty of leftovers. We do this for a couple of reasons: First, when our key meal of the week is vegetarian, this often translates into big savings on our food costs--a central advantage of part-time vegetarianism. This simple tactic of building a heavy rotation around a double (or triple!) batch of vegetarian soup or stew probably saves us more time and money than anything else we do in the kitchen.
Second, we eat the leftovers of this scaled-up meal on alternate days with another recipe. Why alternate days? Well, while it's true that there's no easier way to get dinner on the table than reheating something you've already made, it's also true that eating the same thing for multiple days in a row gets... tiresome. Alternating leftovers solves this problem.
Another thought: we often have a crockpot recipe in our heavy rotation. This might be something like our Chipotle Crockpot Chile, Crockpot Beef Stew, or Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew. All of these recipes are delicious, simple, and make a ton of extra food.
Finally, Black Beans and Rice tends to show up regularly in our heavy rotation just because it's hilariously easy and we never seem to get sick of it, ever.
So, readers, now it's your turn! Share a few of your family’s favorite, easiest recipes in the comments below, and feel free to include links back to your site. Let's help each other put delicious, easy home-cooked meals on our tables!
What recipes are in your heavy rotation?
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