Courtesy of Executive Chef James McFarland
Courtesy of Executive Chef James McFarland

Cooking during COVID-19

With pandemic baking trends like sour dough bread and focaccia art many of us are back in the kitchen these days.

Eating healthy, meal prepping and planning are all top of mind, but they aren’t always the most achievable. USask Executive Chef James McFarland shares his experience, along with a few tips for making meal times easier and more enjoyable.

With five kids and both he and his wife working from home, keeping everyone’s tastebuds happy can be quite the challenge.

“There is often a lot more convenience when we’re at work,” said McFarland. “We can pick something up or maybe go out for supper, but we don’t have as many options right now. Even though many of us are working from home, we’re still faced with the same old question, “what’s for supper?”

“Meal planning is a great thing to do, but it’s not always realistic or schedules don’t always work out as planned,” said McFarland. “I’m a chef and my wife is a dietician, you’d think we’d be the family to have it all figured out, but instead we just try to keep the basics available and go from there.”

The basics look a little different in the McFarland household. “I like to make sure that the fridge is full of flavor components like roasted garlic, roast tomatoes, compound mustards, flavored butters, oils or herb pesto’s that way you can easily make any meal more exciting,” said McFarland. “I always recommend that you also have some staples like a hummus, pizza sauce and a good assortment fresh vegetables and herbs in your fridge at all times."

McFarland also recommends processing and chopping your vegetables right away and have them prepped in the fridge. “This is another efficient way to make sure that you’re already half way there when you start to prepare a meal.” One thing the McFarland house never goes without is some dough in the fridge.

 “Pizza is always a hit in our home,” says McFarland, “and making your own dough is easier than you might think. It’s also a great activity for the kids, and everyone is happy with supper because they can choose their own toppings.” McFarland is happy to stick to the classics, but if you want to try something new try adding roasted or charred vegetables, fresh salad topping like arugula, or a light drizzle of balsamic reduction or honey to your pizza.

Try making your own pizza dough and sauce tonight! 

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