Nowadays time to cook has really become scarce because of a demanding work schedule, commuting, taking care of the children, studying, etc. So many events and responsibilities are getting in the way of improving eating habits and all these factors are affecting people’s long term goals and are not allowing space for real change to happen. This is why it is so important to know how to make easy recipes that are both nutritious and fast to make.
For every meal to be really nourishing you need to include protein, vegetables, healthy fats and a complex carbohydrate. There are many options for you to improve your eating habits and make cooking easier, faster and enjoyable.
I will give you a few tips on how to maximise your time, so you can make the best out of every meal without spending hours chopping, cooking and cleaning. A few of the things you should start doing are:
- Batch cook: Take one day of the week to cook a large portion of lentils, rice, chicken and/or soup. Then separate into containers, either to be frozen or just refrigerated. For example, if you make lentils you can then use them for a cold lentil salad, lentil soup or lentil burgers. This will save you lots of time during the week and will allow you to make different recipes every day that will satisfy you.
- Use a slow cooker: This has been an absolutely favourite of mine for the past year. A slow cooker just makes life easier. In the morning you could throw in chicken, meat or previously soaked legumes or beans with some water and vegetables. Leave it to cook for a few hours and when you arrive at night, the meal will be made. And what’s best, there will not be that much to wash!
- Buy frozen vegetables: Before you say anything, yes, fresh vegetables are always better, but there is not always time to shop, chop and wash. Having good quality frozen vegetables can really get you out of a pickle when you don’t have enough time to cook and want to get the best nutrients out of your food. This will also add variety to your vegetable intake.
- The power of soup: Soups can be nourishing and very filling. They can also be a great and light meal for dinnertime. Just make a big batch of your favourite vegetable soup and use it during the week. You could have it as small entree, or as your main meal. You could add chicken, lentils, quinoa or chickpeas and you’ll have a very filling plate.
- Use leftovers: Food from the night before should never be frowned upon, it can be so helpful. If you have some vegetables from earlier in the week, just mix them up with some quinoa and tofu. This will be a 10 minute meal that will be very tasty and filling.
- Use the oven: This is a great appliance that can come very handy when time is tight since it allows you to multitask while at home. Put in some meat, chicken, fish or tempeh with vegetables in a skillet. Add olive oil, spices and into the oven it goes. Leave it at high heat for 30 minutes and you’ll have a delicious dinner that will be tasty and filling.
Cooking does not have to be a time consuming task. It can actually be very pleasant and you can make it easy by organising your meals previously, using different utensils and being smart about leftovers.
When I am tired and need a quick fix for dinner, some portobello mushrooms filled with feta cheese & dijon mustard can really do the trick. If you don’t want any dairy, you could fill them with vegan pesto and it is absolutely delicious. To accompany, just toss a salad with a few vegetables and you’ll have a great, simple dinner.
- Preheat the oven to 250°C
- Fill the mushrooms with some dijon mustard and then put the crumbled feta cheese. If you are using pesto, just fill it with the paste.
- Put into the oven for about 15 minutes. Don’t leave them too long because they will shrink too much.
- For the salad: Toss baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and some garden peas. Add balsamic vinegar, lemon and pepper.
- Serve and enjoy!