COOKS AT HOME
We're welcoming you into our home kitchens to see how we're staying busy and well fed. Stop by anytime to get tips, recipes and inspiration for all your meal planning and preparation—plus a glimpse at our candid, sometimes messy, countertops. We'll be updating the content regularly with ideas to inspire you to cook more, stay healthy and keep connected.
Cooking and Freezing Grains
Quinoa
Chef Meredith shares tips on how to bulk prep and freeze white, brown and wild rice; quinoa; farro and barley. These time-saving tips also work for lentils.

No matter what's for dinner, a wholesome, nutritious base of grains is like a cozy blanket for your belly. Rice, quinoa and barley are what fill us up, keep us full and make our meals satisfying. Most of my favorite dishes use some form of grain as a foundation food. As a result, I've found ways to make grains in advance to save time in the kitchen—even though it's my favorite place to be, this is also the Golden Age of Streaming, so there are shows to watch.

Here's how to bulk prep and freeze grains and lentils, plus a few of my favorite ways to put quinoa to use.

Quinoa
Step 1: I cook these grains like I cook pasta. To start, heat a large amount of water (over four times the volume of the grain you're going to cook) and season it generously with salt.
Step 2: Stream in the grains, stirring initially so they don't stick together, lower the heat to a simmer. Then cook the grain until it still has a bit of chew to it (al dente).
Step 3: Strain through a colander.
Step 4: Spread the cooked grains onto a rimmed baking sheet. Cool down at room temp, then slip them into the refrigerator until completely cooled.
Step 5: Divide the grains into reusable freezer-safe containers. Frozen grains will stay good for about a month and you can quickly microwave them for a few minutes before use.



A couple of my favorite quinoa recipes:


One-Pot Wonderful
Meredith Abbott
Chef Meredith Abbott, Sur La Table's Manager of Culinary Content, shares this easy and tasty recipe that will become your go-to for weeknight meals.

Simple is often best—especially in complicated times. In my experience, recipes that use easily nameable and shoppable foods become the repeat hits. They're the type of dishes we revisit whenever we want something satisfying and nourishing, and when we're just stumped about what to have for dinner.

This creamy one-pot meal is one of those dishes. All the ingredients are common grocery store items that can also be substituted to suit your particular tastes and cravings. You might try adding zucchini, carrots, swiss chard, kale or broccoli instead of or on top the veggies I chose below. You can also use pork sausage instead of chicken for a richer flavor. For the hotheads out there: a pinch or two of red pepper flakes or sliced chilis adds just the right kick. And this dish will heat up well for leftovers later in the week.

One-Pot Chicken Sausage and Veggie Dish Chef Meredith's One-Pot Chicken Sausage and Veggie Dish
Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:
1 lb. Italian chicken sausage
1/2 yellow onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups baby spinach
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into large pieces


One-Pot Chicken Sausage and Veggie Dish Directions:
  1. Set a large Dutch oven or a stockpot over medium heat. Add chicken sausage. Cook, breaking up large pieces until golden brown all around, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add onions, cauliflower and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Add tomato paste, stir to coat vegetables. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir. Add cream cheese, cover with lid until vegetables are crisp tender, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add spinach, carefully stir until spinach is wilted.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve. We like it with glass of chardonnay.


Meredith Abbott
A Week's Worth of Yum
Chef Meredith Abbott, Sur La Table's Manager of Culinary Content, shares how she makes delicious meals each week while limiting her shopping trips with planning tips and suggestions.

Meal planning for more than a few days has always been a struggle for me—I like to cook spontaneously, depending on what my partner Zac and I are craving. But with stay-at-home protocols, we have to limit the time we spend running errands like grocery shopping, and I have to adapt. I’m with you in this struggle!

Here are four steps I take to make sure we're all eating well and staying sane while staying home.

Gather Inspiration

To plan your menu for the week, get with your dining companions to discuss the foods that you all want to eat that week. We started with dinner—it’s the biggest meal, and the one we have the most opinions about. Once we had our list of food options, I chose meals with common ingredients. For us, that meant chicken, shrimp and versatile vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and salad greens. You might also flip through cookbooks and look online for ideas to get you started. (Sur La Table has put together some great recipes for home-cooked meals.)

Grocery List Create a Shopping List

This is a must. To limit your time in the store, you need to be organized. Begin by checking how many your selected recipes serves to determine if you need to decrease or increase the required ingredients. Also, make plans for leftovers! You may even want to double up on some meals so you've got lunch covered the next day.

Next, write out the ingredients on a shopping list, then sort the ingredients by where you'd find them in store. For example:

Produce
Refrigerated & Dairy
Meats & Seafood
Freezer
Pantry: Canned & Dry Goods
Bulk Bins
Beverages
Home Goods (personal care, cleaning supplies, etc.)

Meredith Abbot This will increase your efficiency in the store, and it also makes it easier to divide the list up if you go to with another person from your household. If the person who is joining you is new to shopping for your house, also write down brands you generally buy, sizes or any helpful notes to help them grab the right items.

Here's what my grocery list looked like.

Create Your Meal Plan

Once you've made your grocery list, you can start to plan out the weekly meals. Since we prioritized dinner, those meals just need to be slotted in the corresponding days. They also inform what we'll be eating for breakfast and lunch, since they share ingredients—we might have leftovers that we'll reheat or use to make something else. Build in flexibility with frozen and prepared meals, even takeout. You don’t have to make everything from scratch!


Here's what our meal plan for the week looked like.
WEEKDAY BREAKFAST LUNCH DINNER SNACK
MONDAY Scrambled eggs with cheese and toast; coffee with almond milk Caesar salad with pepitas/nuts Roasted whole chicken with roasted mixed veggies with lemon and chili (roast half of extra chicken for future meals, half stays raw for Friday—freeze until Thursday ) Bulk bin finds / protein bar
TUESDAY Rolled oats with nuts, fruit and coffee with almond milk Sandwiches: Roast beef or ham, cheese, spinach, mayo, mustard, bread; sides: Pirate’s Booty and veggie sticks Sauteed or grilled shrimp with cheesy cauliflower grits with spinach Homemade hummus and veggies sticks
WEDNESDAY Egg and bacon breakfast sandwich with cheese of choice Caesar salad with leftover roasted chicken and pepitas One-pot meal: chicken sausage and veggies (cauliflower, bell pepper, spinach) with cream cheese sauce; optional: add quinoa Toast with peanut butter and berries/apples
THURSDAY Scrambled eggs with cheese, toast and coffee with almond milk Leftovers of choice Coconut chicken curry with quinoa (add spinach if some is left) Bulk bin finds
FRIDAY Rolled oats with nuts, fruit and coffee with almond milk Tuna salad on toast (melts?), small side salad with sliced veggies Lemon oregano chicken (grilled if nice out); Greek-ish salad with tomato, feta, oregano, bell pepper and olives Hummus and veggie sticks or yogurt and nuts
SATURDAY Egg and bacon breakfast sandwich with cheese of choice Chicken and veggie soup with pesto and quinoa (stock made from chicken bones and trim), toast or crackers—freeze what we don’t eat for next week Grilled (or broiled) fish tacos with cilantro and tapatio cream with cabbage slaw Yogurt with fruit or nuts
SUNDAY Scrambled eggs with cheese, toast and coffee with almond milk Sandwiches of choice (BLT, ham, roast beef, cheese) with crackers/chips LEFTOVERS!!!! + fridge cleanout Fridge cleanout: crackers, cheese, veggie sticks, random snacks
Manage Your Time and Expectations

This may surprise you, but just because I’m a chef doesn’t mean that I want to be in the kitchen all the time, cooking meals from scratch—especially when I still have my job to do. So I made lunches and breakfast easy on myself (and Zac)!

Making Lunch We decided that lunch would be simple sandwiches, salads and leftovers, with soup on the weekend (because it’s the weekend, I won’t be on conference calls or at my computer).

Breakfasts, I also kept simple, with eggs playing a big role. We love eggs, and more importantly, Zac loves cooking eggs. Planning meals that let one person take a break is key, and breakfast is when I get to take it easy. We also have a simple rule in our household—the person who isn’t cooking does the dishes, and we take turns making coffee in the morning.

In other words, meal planning is much easier (and more sustainable) when it’s a team effort.