Minimalist cooking principles

Commuter Cook is a food blog dedicated to obsessed with helping people get dinner done every night of the work week.


Now you understand the foundation of how I cook, here are 10 minimalist cooking principles that I follow to help put this cooking approach into practice. Don’t worry if these are unfamiliar to you or contradict your current cooking philosophy—Imma repeat these on the blog a lot so hopefully they’ll be second nature soon enough.


Principle #1: Work hard, eat well

There’s no getting around it—cooking homemade meals every night is work. Not like work work (you’ve already got a job for that), but more labour intensive than, say, your store bought or takeout dinners. Sure, these are easy, but your family, and your waistline, will thank you if you choose to put in the effort.

Principle #2: A stitch in time saves time

Organization is key. I have to say—and I know deep down you know it too—that planning ahead is the single most important factor to getting dinner done during the week. Yes it’s (a bit of extra) work but if you have a fantastic meal planned and forget to take the meat out of the freezer, where are you come 7pm? Nowhere is where.

Principle #3: Simple is good

As a minimalist cook, you’ll need to save your inner Julia Childs for the weekend…or for when you have a different job. From Monday to Friday, the objective is fast and fresh, not fancy. Choosing the right recipe is the first step so don’t let that roast fool you—you ain’t got time for that on a Tuesday after a 12+ hour day.

Principle #4: Use what you’ve got

James Barber, an iconic Canadian chef, was a big fan of substitutions, and so am I. After a long day, you don’t have the luxury of making a last minute grocery trip to buy a missing ingredient. No butternut squash but have carrots or sweet potatoes instead? Go for it and use what ya got.

Principle #5: Familiarity breeds speed

On average, I may try a new recipe a week. Maaaaaybe. But most of the time, I stick with a rotation of about 20 dinner recipes that I go through every few weeks and these vary by season; to keep things interesting, I substitute ingredients in familiar recipes. Cooking what you know is the key to cooking as fast as possible.

Principle #6: Mo’ money mo’ time

Today, we’re lucky to have shortcuts like pre-prepped veggies and bag o’ salad readily available and I often (let’s be real, usually) take advantage. Does it cost a little more? Sure. But not having to wash, boil, peel AND cut up those beets after a 12-hour day? Priceless.

Principle #7: Frozen is fine

If you haven’t already, it’s time to make friends with the freezer section. From veggies and fruits, to shrimp and other meats, frozen ingredients (ahem, not Hungry-Man) are an important ally in your quest to minimalist cooking.

Principle #8: No shame in shortcuts

I don’t think I’ve peeled a carrot in 10 years. I don’t make my own stock. I buy canned beans. Minimalist cooking is about knowing where your time is best spent and taking short cuts when and where they make sense.

Principle #9: Habit forming

Yes, weeknight cooking is work. BUT, like all good-for-you habits (flossing, exercising, putting the toilet seat down, etc.), it really does become easier with time. I pinkie promise. The trick is to get started. So whatdaya waiting for??

Principle #10: Be confident

Trust me—anything that comes out of your kitchen will be better for you than takeout so give yourself a pat on the back for getting dinner done on a Tuesday. And so what if dinner isn’t amazing? I’ve whipped up my fair share of #dinnerfail but hey, guess what? You get to eat again tomorrow so you can redeem yourself then.


Where to go from here

Time to practice. If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to contact me. Don’t want to miss new blog posts? Enter yo name and email address in that box right down there. 👇👇