Back in my working days, I used to think of myself as the king of batch cooking. On any given weekend, I would roll up my sleeves and slice, dice, chop, fry, bake, roast or braise any number of food items in preparation for the work week ahead.
I would place the completed meals into small microwave-safe containers, label them and then freeze them. It often felt like cooking for a platoon, preparing two or three recipes at the same time and ending up with 12 to 15 prepared meals, but it worked for me. As a result, during the work week, I barely had to think about lunches and dinners. To me, it was a pretty efficient system for cooking for one.
During those marathon sessions of cooking, I picked up the habit of cleaning the kitchen as I went along to avoid a mountain of dishes and a bad case of “kitchen claustrophobia”. Just the same, when food prep day was done, I could do one final kitchen clean up and then toss whatever I was wearing into the laundry hamper.
The reality is that despite my meticulousness when cooking and cleaning up, I often ended up wearing some of my ingredients. Call me an enthusiastic chef!
After moving to the country with my partner, I quickly adapted to cooking for two, as we took turns in meal preparation.
As much as writing and photography are my main creative outlets, trying ingredients and seasonings I haven’t tried before has been another fun pursuit on my creative journey. With this keen interest and curiosity, I was able to chip away at the bucket list of recipes I had accumulated over the years when time and energy were in short supply. During that process, I truly rediscovered the joy of cooking.
However, in spending time in the kitchen each day, food was flying, oil was spattering, and aromas of garlic, fried onions and a variety of spices infused several sets of sweatshirts and track pants.
Despite having a collection of great aprons I could use, they just didn’t provide sufficient coverage or prevent the absorption of cooking odours.
It didn’t take long that I could play connect-the-dots with the number of oil stains that were collecting on my sweatshirts, creating more work on laundry day when trying to take the stains out.
That being the case, I was going through sets of casual clothes as a crazy pace, which created more laundry. Signs of premature aging on a favourite purple hoodie brought me great concern.
Also, given that our water supply is provided by a well system, wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts just once and then throwing them to the laundry pile was not in the best interest of sustainable water usage.
In a moment of inspiration (sparked by our rising electricity bill) I made the official proclamation/decree that from that day forward, I would have one designated official “cooking outfit”.
For that purpose, I recruited a pair of not-so-new sweat pants and sweatshirt, knowing that they were going to be the sacrificial lambs to take one for the team in the kitchen.
This also made sense given that this past year I purchased mosquito repellent shirt, pants and hat, which were bestowed the honour of becoming my dedicated “gardening clothes” (which also saved on dirtying other articles of casual clothes). By following that same logic, why shouldn’t I have a dedicated set of “cooking clothes.”
From that day on, I would put on the dedicated cooking clothes before meal preparation and switch out of them when the dishes were done. Given that the outfit was only worn an hour or two per session, it didn’t need to see the inside of the washing machine after each and every wearing. It could wait until after a few cooking sessions.
It turned out to be a simple and efficient solution that worked pretty well.
Now, only one set of clothes gets dirty or “aromatic” from the cooking. Only one set needs special treatment on laundry day for stain removal. At the same time, the rest of my casual clothes are spared the abuse of the washing machine, thus extending their life span.
The part that makes me chuckle is that when you combine sleepwear, casual wear, cooking clothes, gardening clothes and every once in a while, “going out in public to run errands” clothes, there could be days I might go through more wardrobe changes than Céline Dion does at one of her concerts.
Just the same, from a sustainability perspective, having a dedicated set of clothes for cooking has been an efficient solution, when an apron just wasn’t enough.
Who knows, maybe when the sweatpants and sweatshirt have run their course, maybe the next cooking clothes could be something more tailor-made for the occasion like an actual chef’s uniform.
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