(The Humanitarian Social Network)
One of the biggest challenges I have had in the field is eating healthful food, without:
I'm alone out here... and in my country (India) Its almost impossible to eat fresh food without doing one or a combination of the above things.
What are your strategies for food shopping/cooking while being alone in the field/office?
My biggest challenges in the Pacific are c-e, so I try to shift towards cooking for two in the evenings and bringing the leftovers for lunch the next day. Or, I'll make a multi-portion batch of something that keeps (e.g. hummus, soup) on a quiet evening (often Sundays) to get me through the busier days during the week. By packing lunch most days, I feel better/healthier/less poor about the occasional meal out. I also try to take a day or two every couple of weeks to use up what's in the house without shopping for more to practice not being wasteful. And it makes traveling a lot easier if you make a habit of using up random bits and pieces regularly.
Of course, this only works if you have a refrigerator. When I lived without one in Ethiopia, I used to keep things like onion and garlic on hand, but only buy the fresher, more perishable things as I needed them and in the exact quantities I wanted. I got weird looks for buying one carrot or one tomato, but it cut down on waste a lot.
Thanks Jduce! I took your advice tonight and I'll try this for a lunch thing... Though here, where the food is pretty much the same (or cooked in my kitchen and lacking artful subtleties) I will need to prioritize variety.
Thankfully I have a fridge. Small joys!
GREAT discussion point, Sarah. What part of India are you in? Would be good to know before I weigh in on this. And what's your kitchen situation like and how would you rate your cooking experience? One of the jobs I do is talking to people about situations like yours and helping them through it. And you already have a great response from jduce to get this convo started... x
I'm in Southern Rajasthan. I have a kitchen... I'm a nester, so I got enough utensils to get things cooked -- The thing I am lacking is a second gas burner, so that I can cook two things at once and no oven -- rare here... And my cooking experience? Outside of India, I make a pretty good midwestern hamburger casserole...but cooking is not my "thing." (Give me a sewing machine and some fabric and I will make you something so fabulous that it will make you weep with joy -- but -- cooking Indian food hasn't been my strongest hand of cards.)
On the upside, I'm no longer terrified of my pressure cooker -- so that's progress!
You can make a dutch oven on a stove top! Check out the 'Cooking in Ethiopia' document uploaded here somewhere for more details, but basically, you get a big pot with a lid (the ubiquitous aluminum ones are perfect), put some big rocks or tun cans in the bottom, and place your baking dish on top of the rocks/cans. Then put the lid on and leave it on the stove on low/medium heat. It's not an exact science, so you have to keep peeking to check for doneness and anything that requires precise temperatures is tricky, but I made dozens of cakes, lasagnas, pies, bread, cookies, etc using a stovetop oven. It's a real lifesaver for comfort foods and birthday parties!
I hear you on the one gas burner issue, Sarah! I've got the same problem here in Indonesia, and can't afford to buy a double burner right now. Our landlord insists that one burner is enough...
Even to cook something like dahl and chapatti/roti takes about an hour because of having to wait for one thing to finish cooking before you can start the next.
I got the roti thing covered -- or usually. The maid negotiated "roti making" into her duties to justify her much higher than usual, but infinitely lower than I would ever pay in the USA salary. I'm also learning to make them... however, my skills are closer to "burned" than puffy and golden brown. Now, grilled cheese paratha...somehow magic happens.
I've also used an immersion heater to start to boil water for pasta/tea/etc... then switch it over -- maybe that will help!