Look at the tips below and keep them in mind for when you are are sick, tired or in a rush. The chronically ill, tired or rushed may decide to take on these tips full-time. Though some of the following are not exactly eco-friendly, you may decide that it is better to ‘bend the rules’ than succumb to fast food and that the convenience is worth the stress reducing benefits.
Consider writing down any tips, lists and recipes on a Simple Meals Action Plan chart. Keep this somewhere easy to locate, like inside the pantry door. If you are lucky enough to have ‘helpers’ they can find and use the chart too.
Plan ahead for the times when getting a meal on the table will be a challenge by making double quantities of dishes that freeze well. Label and store the extra portion in the freezer for up to 3 months. Check out books and websites and Pinterest for recipes that deal with freezer cooking or ‘Once a Month’ or batch cooking.
Make a list of meals that can be cooked in only one or two pans, or in the crockpot. Try some new recipes for one-pot or crockpot cooking and add these to your repertoire. Aim to have all your recipes in one easy to find location.
Meals made in the oven or rice cooker require less standing and ‘slaving over a hot stove’. Search for recipes that bake rather than panfry, e.g. lamb chops can be baked on a rack in a disposable baking pan. Many rice cookers can make dishes such as paella, pilaf, risotto and more, look in the instruction booklet or on the internet for ideas.
Use disposable baking dishes,pie plates etc. Line baking trays or sheets with foil or baking paper to make cleaning easier.
Label leftovers and extras that you don’t want eaten before you have a chance to use them for a meal.
Make double amounts of browned mince or chicken or beans etc for future meals. Put the extra servings in a labelled,airtight container for up to three days.
When chopping vegetables chop enough for two nights. Store the next nights’ veggies in the fridge in an airtight container lined with a paper towel and they will stay fresh.
Boil extra potatoes. Mash half for next night or the night after and either reheat them or use in a dish such as cottage pie, fish cakes, croquettes etc.
Have a kettle of boiling water ready to deglaze and clean saucepans and frypans to eliminate the need for soaking and scrubbing.
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash utensils etc. as you cook or stack them straight into the dishwasher. This will mean having an empty sink and making room in your dishwasher BEFORE you start cooking.
Try the method that chefs use called Mise en Place ( pronounced miz on plas) which means to having everything set out. Gather, prep, measure and chop before you start cooking.
Make extra at dinner time for lunch. Pack lunches while you prep for cooking or as you are cutting up veg or fruit for that meal and before you automatically put the leftovers away.
For a super easy meal look in the fridge at leftovers and see if they can be made into a meal or have a cold dinner of salad, cheese, any smallgoods or deli items you might have. Try ‘breakfast for dinner’ it’s usually quick to cook when you want a fast dinner.
Have some ready-to-cook meals like pasta and sauces available or frozen meals or frozen chicken tenders or the like in the freezer to ‘help out’.
Some specialty food shops have ready to heat meals that are quite healthy and can help you out, look especially at stores selling ethnic food, at bakeries and fruit markets for Italian,Greek and other ready to heat meals.Check out the healthier options for take away either at a fast food chain or a local cafe or resturant, even if you buy the cooked chicken or ready to heat pastizzi for example and add some rice and salad at home, for example, you can save some of your energy.
Hopefully the above tips will help you get a meal on the table with less effort and stress but don’t feel at all bad about buying take away or a bar-b-que chicken or even serving sandwiches when you need to. Guilt stemming from not serving the family a Masterchef style meal every night is just not going to help anyone. Your family would rather you be happy and calm and feeling well.
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