This week marks one year since classes at UC Berkeley went online, and since then, it has been difficult to connect with students outside of my apartment. Over the last year, I have learned to appreciate spending time with my housemates, especially cooking dinner with them. Even though things have been online, all of our schedules are still very busy with classes, work, and various student organizations. However, we still make time for what we call “family dinners” at least four days a week, where we all help cook a meal and sit down together at the table to eat.
Since we don’t find ourselves having hours and hours to cook everyday, we’ve decided to cook in bulk. What do I mean by this? When we cook, we cook big. Our mac and cheese nights should provide enough leftovers for four people for a week, although it only lasts us three days. (What can I say? We all love mac and cheese). You wouldn’t think that two pounds of pasta, a pound of cheese, a pound of bacon, a pound of sausage, plus the sauce would vanish so quickly. But alas, it tastes so good and it never seems to last.
Some people, my family included, tend to be surprised by our giant meals. They ask, “Why do four people feel the need to cook ten full pork chops for dinner?” Well, we’ve discovered it just makes sense and here’s why.
First, it’s basically the same effort and level of difficulty to cook large portions vs. small portions. You’re still cutting the same vegetables, boiling water, doing dishes, and all the other steps in making the meal. If you’re already making food, why not just make a lot more? It just makes sense.
Second, when we make large portions, we get leftovers for days. Since we do have days every week when we’re really busy and can’t make dinner, leftover pork chops, fried rice or mac and cheese really comes in handy. It’s good planning!
Third, it’s become a sort of game, making bets about if the food will actually fit into one pan, or if a second pan will be required (A second pan usually ends up being needed). We always end up laughing the whole time at whoever is trying to stir all the ingredients in the nearly overflowing pan. We’ve made it fun and challenging, while spending more time together.
My only caution for cooking a lot of food at once is making sure it all gets eaten. As wonderful as it is to have leftovers, after a few days, those vegetables start to look a little sad and the meat starts to turn a little questionable. Lucky for me though, my housemates and I have had no problem eating all the food in a timely manner. Who says you can’t have mac and cheese for breakfast?
Cooking in a big way with my housemates has become one of my favorite things to do during the pandemic. I highly recommend having really big “family dinners” together.