Returning home after a long day, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours slaving away in front of the stove. However, with hungry mouths clamoring for healthy meals, what do you do?
Preparing a quick, and most importantly, healthy dinner is easy if you have a few simple recipes up your sleeves, and if you keep your fridge and pantry well-stocked with some basic ingredients.
It’s always a good idea to keep your pantry stocked with pasta and pasta sauce. If you don’t believe in ready-made sauces, consider getting some canned, crushed tomatoes instead, then adding your own meat, vegetables and spices to make it a healthy, filling sauce. For a healthier meal, the organic version isn’t that much more expensive, especially if you get it at Trader Joe’s. Potatoes are also versatile and can last for some time while rice can be quickly and easily prepared.
Chicken is one of the most versatile meats available. Getting a whole chicken and cutting it up into pieces for freezing during the weekend is the most cost-effective option. Chef John has a great video tutorial on cutting up a chicken with a pair of scissors. The carcass can be used for a nice, nutritious chicken soup while the meat can be used in everything from a curry to fried chicken. Minced beef can also come in very handy, and you can get the leaner versions for healthier meals.
Fresh greens are a must in every kitchen, so get some salad leaves on your weekly grocery shopping trip. Don’t forget the root vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots and celery, which can often be used to spice up most dishes. Some tomatoes and peppers will also serve to add color and flavor to your meals. Frozen mixed vegetables will also come in handy.
Cheese and spices
Some cheese in your fridge is essential. From spicing up a pasta dish to a simple grilled cheese sandwich, you won’t go far wrong with some cheddar and Parmesan. Some spices you should keep at hand include oregano, which goes well with any Italian-inspired dish, chili flakes for that extra kick, and of course the basics, salt and pepper.
Celebrity chef, Rachel Ray, can give you lots of ideas for meals in under thirty minutes, but here are some recipes you should keep in your repertoire:
Using the oven means that you don’t have to stand over the stove, thus freeing up some time to oversee your child’s homework or have a nice shower. Place some chicken pieces in an oven-proof dish, layer some onion slices, tomatoes and celery on top, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, cover with tin foil, and place it in a hot oven. In half an hour, you’ll have a delicious meal on the table. To spice it up, you can even add some lemon juice, sprigs of thyme or a dash of oregano to the dish. Since you have the oven on anyway, cut a few potatoes into slices, sprinkle some olive oil on top, season to taste with salt, pepper and perhaps some rosemary, and you’ll have your carbs taken care of.
Stir fry some strips of chicken breast with onions and peppers, and you’ll have dinner ready on the table in minutes. Fajita skins are easily available in supermarkets and will happily keep for a while in your fridge. Shred some lettuce for extra greens, add some guacamole and sour cream or yogurt, and you’ve got a gourmet meal at hand. If you’re short on fajita skins, steam some rice to bulk up the meal. If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, toast the fajita skins in a dry frying pan for a few minutes to get them nice and hot.
Pasta is one of the quickest and easiest meals you can make. The noodles can be prepared in a matter of minutes while the sauce can be sourced from a bottle and heated up. If that’s not your style, saute some onions, then add some crushed tomatoes and any other vegetables to make a delicious sauce. To make it a heartier meal, add some minced beef to make a classic meat sauce. Garnish with some cheese and oregano to further lift the dish.