You know the drill. Come home, tired, feeling decidedly non-badass, maybe with a post-work on-special beer sloshing around your belly, ready to just nosh on something, anything, and vegetate righteously for the evening. Your stomach is snarling hangrily and batting not-so-playfully at your exhausted frontal lobes. This is the moment to be strong, to make the decision, to cook a damn healthy meal instead of caving to the carnivore fast-food craving. This is the time.
But actually, it’s not.
LIMITED DECISION-MAKING ENERGY
In-the-moment is THE WORST TIME to make a decision. We all have only so much energy for self-determination, and once that energy is spent (usually after dealing with work s***), we’re spent. There’s nothing left. It’s over. The snarling hangribeast wins, and before you know it you find yourself in the drive-through, you’re handing over an hour’s worth of hard-earned pay, you’re sinking your teeth into an actually-pretty-gross-but-right-now-oh-so-satisfying Double McOily w/ Xtra Sodium Fritters.
Our brains work in habit-chunks for most of the day, and if your body and your brain are used to a quick food fix after a long day’s sludgery, you’re not going to be able to just wield a magic face-slap and instantly change your behavior.
What you CAN do is make it really, really easy on the hangribeast. Prepare. When you DO have energy and downtime, get ready for what you know is coming. Create systems that are ready when you are, systems that remove the decision-making by making it easier and faster to eat a healthy meal at home than to go out.
I’ve talked about ReadyMeat 1 before. Basic concept: meat is the most problematic component of fast cooking, because bacteria/cleaning/etc, so cooking batches of meat to have ready for future use takes a boatload of pain out of the equation. I did carnitas for the last round, because it’s a pretty sweet way to use cheap cuts of pork shoulder.
This time the bird is the word. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs rock. (I don’t want to keep saying boneless, skinless, so I’m gonna shorten it to BL/SL. Word.) Unlike chicken breast, thighs stay moist and tender pretty much any way you cook them; they’re just a lot harder to screw up than breasts. They also unroll to lay really flat, so they cook supra-fast.
So all you do is lay a pack of BL/SL thighs on a pan, toss on a few pinches of salt 2, put ’em right up there next to the broiler in the oven, which is on HIGH, ten minutes, flip, ten minutes, cool five minutes, DONE. BOOM. Now throw those babies in baggies and fridge ’em. Or freeze ’em. Either way.
Now the decision is already made.
You can pop one on some bread, melt a slice of provolone over it, mix some Sriracha and mayo for saucin’, and call it a Thigh Melter. Or chop it, throw it on spinach with some almonds, dried cranberries, and vinaigrette, and have a salade å la Ladd. Or smash some garlic and ginger in a hot skillet, fry up some leftover rice, drop in a thigh, drizzle it with Singapore Awesomesauce, and don’t call it anything, just eat it. You’ll have any and all of these things in less time than it takes you to get to the drive through.
Badasses don’t feel like badasses all the time, because they can’t. It’s humanely impossible. But they do put righteous systems in place when they DO feel like badasses, so that they can BE badasses even when they don’t feel like it.
You are a righteous badass. Act like it.
-Josh is listening to The Black Keys
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat broiler to HIGH.
- Sprinkle chicken thighs with the salt, and lay flat on a foil-covered cookie sheet or roasting pan.
- Put the pan on the highest oven rack next to the broiler, cook ten minutes.
- Flip the thighs, cook another ten minutes.
- Let the thighs cool for five minutes, then refrigerate or freeze for future use.
- You might need to keep the oven door cracked to keep the broiler up to the proper heat.