Last week I discovered the beauty of spreading the prep work for a recipe out over the course of a week. This discovery came out of sheer laziness, but is very welcome, because I think it actually ended up being a great way to break a time-consuming recipe into small chunks. It started because I had planned on cooking Cuban black bean and yam stew on Sunday night, but realized I had forgotten to soak the dried black beans first. Sunday night: soaked black beans. Monday, I could have progressed, but felt exhausted and settled for leftovers. I decided to at least peel and chop the yams, and set aside. Tuesday, was another long day, so I boiled the black beans as the recipe indicated, and stuck them in the fridge. By Thursday, I was ready to get back in the kitchen, and found myself very pleased that all of the prep work was done, and that cooking the actual recipe only took me about 20 minutes.

Little by little...

This method only actually works if you’re planning on making something that involves prep work, but it is a pretty good system, and if you can organize your meal plan for the week, and create a schedule of small steps for your next cooking project, I think you’ll find that eating good meals just got that much simpler.

Below is the recipe for Cuban black bean and yam stew, with my break-down of nightly steps:

Sunday – soak 2 cups of black beans in a bowl of water overnight. Rinse clean, set aside and cover.

Monday- Peel and chop 2 large yams or sweet potatoes, one large onion, and one jalapeno pepper (de-seeded).Refrigerate.

Tuesday – put beans and 2 bay leaves in a large stockpot with 6-8 cups of water, bring to a boil, and let simmer, covered, for an hour and a half. Refrigerate.

Wednesday – This is when the magic happens – Put beans back in pot on the stove over low heat. Meanwhile, add chopped onion to large saucepan, sauté in 2 tbsp olive oil until soft. Add 2 tsp cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Add chopped jalapeno and yams. Saute about two minutes, then add to black beans, cover and simmer about 20 minutes. Add juice from 2 limes.

 Serve over brown rice with avocado salsa: 2 chopped avocados, half a chopped red onion, juice from 2 limes, and ½ cup chopped cilantro.

 – Jean

You could break down this recipe more or less to fit your own schedule. Or try breaking down the steps to another recipe that you’ve been putting off!