Over the past year, I have been trying to incorporate more Korean food into our diet. I find that my husband will eat home cooked food more readily if it is Korean (“역시 한국 음식이 최고야~”) and we will both feel better after the meal. Our insides feel very comfortable, and we digest easily.
In the beginning, I was cooking things like 체육볶음 or 돼지길비찜 in a big pot and serving them up as the main course, with little to no 반찬s and sometimes no rice. Well, I actually did have some side dishes, but they were mostly raw veggies and I was pretty much the only one eating them. Because I was offering them as the main attraction of our meals, my husband blasted through these meat dishes, and started eating 컵라면 when we ran out of food (or bringing fried chicken home from the grocery store) and I started getting frustrated.
I’d spend my Sunday in the kitchen doing food prep that was meant to last a week, only to find the food gone by Wednesday. And we are only two right now. What happens when we have a baby? It all seemed so unsustainable. So I asked my husband what to do…and he told me that for normal weekly meals, most of mom’s work goes into making 반찬.
If you search the tag #밑반찬 or #반찬만들기 you’ll be able to get an idea of how it looks once it’s all prepared. From the research I did, it looks like most ladies are preparing 4-6 반찬 per week, with one meaty dish like 갈비 or curry or 닭볶음탕 or whatever. According to my husband, mom makes all those things on the weekend, and serves them up for every meal throughout the week with rice, and then once or twice per week she whips up a simple stew or soup, which last a few days each.
It was like a light bulb appeared over my head and clicked on.
Put in the same amount of work on Sunday afternoon as I have already been doing, and cook a quick soup one or two days a week for a little variety. Since the meat isn’t a main course, but just an accompanying dish, it’s not the focus of the meal, and it will last the week. It’s so much easier than thinking up something new to serve for breakfast, lunch, and (especially) dinner every day. And as an added, added bonus, my husband will scarf up everything I eat happily, because it’s his food, and this kind of 집밥 is the best.