Eating long, eating short, eating well: pantry stocks and leftovers

I've been busy this week, running hurriedly from here to there. By and large it's all been good and fun stuff, including a literal run to commence training for the Navy half marathon in September.

During frenzied times, it's all too easy to eat mindlessly, crappily or not at all. But that thought is positively repellent to me, as I hate wasting a meal. I mean, we only get three a day*. It's also unhealthy, for the food we eat is the fuel we give our bodies. Eating well is the equivalent of loving ourselves enough to nourish and tend to our physical forms.

I often carve time in each day to prepare meals, for myself and my family. But that's not always feasible which is why it's important to remember that you can eat well and healthfully on the quick.

Each of the past two nights, I've made dinner in under ten minutes. On Thursday, I steamed some couscous (five minutes) while sauteing some shrimp to serve on top. I had all the dry ingredients -couscous and spices- in my pantry, broth in the fridge, parsley on the windowsill and used a pound of already peeled and deveined shrimp I bought earlier that day. Simple, fast, filling and good.

Last night, I took advantage of the need to clean out my fridge by making a platter of salads. Leftovers can often be repurposed in lovely ways: extra mozzarella turns into a caprese salad; previously roasted potatoes make a nice cold dish when topped with crème fraîche and lemon; beets I'd earlier thought to roast make a sturdy foil for watercress, oranges from breakfast and some peppered chevre from the cheese drawer. The lemony green beans were from the kids' dinner, and those lingering carrots from mine on Wednesday night. I pulled some pre-sliced whole grain bread from the freezer, toasted it and voila. Dinner is served.

Naturally, this approach to dinner works best if your pantry and fridge are well-stocked with good basics, if you keep your leftovers in easy-to-see containers and if you're good about regularly purchasing favorite ingredients to keep on hand. I am never without good olive oil, whole grain bread, a variety of vegetables and an assortment of cheese.

But a little thinking ahead goes a long way, and it's so worth it. Buon appetito!

*Please note that I am extraordinarily concerned with poverty and hunger in our world and recognize the luxury my family has to eat three square meals a day.