I have volunteered to teach a couple of women I know some basics of cooking. We are all trying to eating healthier, and one of the women is considering becoming a vegetarian/vegan. We will probably get together every couple of weeks, on a weekend afternoon to practice and enjoy eating the results.
The criteria are
1. Ease of cooking: Both women are very intimidated by cooking and they tell me that, in the past, when they have tried to cook they have bought a bunch of expensive ingredients and gotten underwhelming results in the end. So I need stuff that's pretty simple and doesn't require them to have fancy cookware or buy a ton of ingredients they will use only for a single recipe.
2. Healthy options: We are all trying to eat better and I'm thinking this will challenge me to focus on cooking healthier while I teach them to make food that tastes good, but is solid nutritionally. Right now, both of them rely pretty heavily upon take-out, fast food, and convenience foods like frozen pizza and health is a big motivating factor.
3. Flexibility: One of the women is single and has a very busy schedule with work and hobbies. The other woman doesn't work outside the home but stays very busy with her 4 kids and volunteer work. Food that will work for kids and can be made in larger quantities is necessary for her, obviously. None of us have a ton of money.
Here is my thinking for now
I'll pick a "theme" each week we are able to get together. That will allow me to show them how to use the same set of flavors to make a variety of recipes that they could use throughout the week. It also allows us to enjoy a meal together at the end of the day. I can introduce new spices and techniques as we go and also show them ways they can use the leftovers or do the whole cook once/eat twice style of cooking.
So far, I'm thinking Mexican, Asian, and Italian would be good and accessible places to begin.
We're going to start next Sunday and here's what I am thinking of cooking
1. Teach them how to make crockpot carnitas. I know it's not completely authentic, but that's not really the purpose. We can use the meat for tacos on Sunday, but I can give them suggestions of other fabulous ways they can use this same meat. It also freezes well, which is something both women are interested in learning.
2. Make a green chili and chicken mixture. One the day we're together, I can show them how to make it into simple enchiladas but it would also be a great base for chicken and white bean chili during the winter. It's also something that can be made quickly, with very little prep work and can be turned into a dinner as simple or as fancy as you need.
3. Arroz Verde. I love it, it's delicious, it's not totally standard, and would go well with both meats, or could be used for delicious and healthy lunches with a can or beans and some salsa. I also plan to buy radishes for the tacos and I love using the green tops in this rice.
4. I'll probably go over how to make quick quesadillas. I'm especially partial to mango and shrimp in mine and would provide a different flavor than most people think of when they make quesadillas.
Most of these foods can be used a few different ways and the ingredients can easily be used up. For example, leftover tortillas are delicious with refried beans and a fried egg. Especially if you have a little fresh lime or cilantro to toss on top. The rice can easily be mixed with things for lunches. Etc.
So, thoughts on this? What would you show people how to make? Would your list look about the same or completely different? Would you take a totally different approach? I've never done this before and I don't want to make them MORE scared of cooking! I feel like I need to do it in a way that the payoff is pretty immediate as well, in that they walk away knowing how to actually put meals on the table that meet their needs as opposed to learning the difference between roasting and braising.
I'm excited and I'd love for this to go well! Help me out!