For many Canadians, a weekend at the cottage is a favourite getaway. It’s a chance to slow down, enjoy the outdoors and spend time with friends and family. Here are 7 rules of easy cottage cooking.
1. Keep the pantry stocked
Having a supply of canned staples, whole grains and pastas, spices and shelf-stable condiments at the cottage means you only need to buy perishables each weekend. And if the gang is hungrier than you expected, you can always make a batch of hummus or an extra bowl of pasta. Just be sure to keep foods in covered containers, safe from pests.
2. Plan your meals
A solid meal plan and a shopping list will get you in and out of the grocery store faster, with just the food you need for the weekend. You’ll waste less food and won’t have to bring leftovers back to the city.
3. Make it ahead
Ribs, for example, are a great make-ahead option for the cottage. Bake them low and slow in the oven or slow cooker at home and then finish them on the barbecue at the cottage. You’ll get hot-off-the-grill flavour with no fuss.
4. Prep ahead, too
To save time, slice, dice or chop onions, peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery and many other vegetables ahead. Dice a weekend’s worth of onions as you’re making dinner on Friday night, tuck them into a resealable plastic bag and keep them in the refrigerator, handy for whenever you need them.
5. Ask for help
Don’t be shy; cottage guests really do want to help out. They can chop vegetables for you, bring a favourite dish from home or make brunch. And everyone can take a turn doing the dishes.
6. Make leftovers
Throw extra peppers on the grill with dinner and then chop them into a pasta salad the next day. Or cook a couple of extra chicken breasts to use in sandwiches. Leftover pork tenderloin and grilled potatoes? You’ve got the makings of an easy breakfast hash.
7. Break the rules
Have breakfast for dinner, or dinner leftovers for breakfast. It’s the cottage, where you can eat what you like. And there’s no rule that says cottage cooking has to be fast and easy all the time. If you enjoy a cooking project, take full advantage of a cool and rainy afternoon to practise your bread-making skills or prepare fresh pasta from scratch along with your grandmother’s slow-simmered sauce.