Let’s face it: when you’ve got a lot of responsibilities to juggle and are prioritizing your own well being, making complex, time-consuming meals isn’t high on the list. However, eating a variety of tasty, healthy meals is appealing. So how do you make delicious, healthy meals when you don’t have a lot of time?
Stick to The Basics
The answer is to cook basic foods (you can read about that here) and dress them up with sauces and condiments. For example, take a bowl of rice, add steamed spinach and a couple of over easy eggs, top with Korean BBQ sauce (like Gojuchang sauce), mix it all up, and you’ve got an easy Korean-inspired rice bowl. Not so crazy about Asian spices? Sauté ground turkey with 4 or 5 garlic cloves and chopped broccoli, simmer with good quality marinara sauce, and serve over pasta topped with grated parmesan cheese.
Aim for Good Enough
OK, maybe you think simple meals are boring or not as good as you know you’re capable of preparing. Maybe that’s true. But, so what? There is a time and place for more complex cooking. On a daily basis, aim for ease and efficiency. And it’s OK if the results don’t look or taste like your favorite high end restaurant which may be unhealthy or too pricey anyway. The goal is healthy, easy, quick, and just enough flavor to make it interesting.
Try Something New
There are a lot of choices in the supermarket, so try not to get overwhelmed. Look at the options as a way to expand the repertoire of your cooking and palate one step at a time. Choose organic, brands that are low in sugar (and, if possible, low in sodium,) and don’t have a string of ingredients you cannot pronounce or have never heard of. To start, select just one or two at a time before overloading your refrigerator and pantry. Going forward, remember to check expiration dates, and toss those have expired or that you don’t like.
Here are some ideas so you can think about what you want before you visit the store. Happy Cooking – and let me know what your favorites are!
BBQ and Chili Sauce
Excellent for grilled & roasted meats & vegetables
- American (e.g. Texas, Carolina, Kansas City, etc.)
- Asian (e.g. Korean including Gojuchang Red Chili Sauce, Thai sweet chili, Japanese, Chinese, etc.)
Simmer a jar of curry sauce with boneless chicken tenders, shrimp, cod, tofu, drained canned chickpeas, vegetables, and / or potatoes then serve over rice.
Heat in oil until fragrant before sautéing vegetables or simple mix into cooked vegetables or pasta.
- fresh minced
- preserved in a jar
You can use this to season just about anything fruit in addition to vegetables, grains, beans, and meats.
- Cholula, Sriracha, Tabasco, Texas Pete, Habanero, etc.
Mix with vegetable or chicken bouillon and combine with defrosted shrimp, cooked rice, and steamed veggies for a delicious umami one-dish meal.
Add to sandwiches and burgers, mix with vinegar and oil for simple salad dressings, or enjoy with grilled veggies.
- Dijon, spicy brown, honey, hot, whole grain, yellow, Chinese, horseradish
Olive Oil. Extra Virgin
Can go with anything, really. Have fun sampling varieties from around the world 🙂
- Plain, or infused with garlic, lemon, herbs, hot peppers, peppercorn, etc.
There are countless delicious varieties in the supermarket to choose from for pasta, flatbread, and as a base for a simple beef and bean chili.
Salad Dressing, Bottled
Bottled salad dressing is not just for a lettuce! Try it with a mixture of leftover rice or quinoa, drained canned tuna, drained canned beans, and chopped veggies for a salad worthy of a main meal.
Whether you like it spicy or mild, salsa is versatile on quesadillas, roasted fish, steak, chicken, or a baked potato.
- Chunky tomato, salsa verde, chipotle, ghost pepper, etc.
Soy Sauce, Low Sodium
This ingredient is a no-brainer when it comes to stir fry and rice dishes due to it’s umami and salty flavor.
Not just for steak: try on burgers or in a vegetable stir-fry.
Great for stir-fries, grilled meats, and seafood
Use with oils for salad dressing or on its own for vegetables, meats, seafood, fruit, or to top a delicious savory oatmeal with goat cheese, almonds, and sliced berries.
- Balsamic, white balsamic, white wine, red wine, raspberry and other fruit varieties, rice, apple cider
If you’d like support or guidance on incorporating tasty, easy, healthy meals into your diet and that of your kids, I’m here to help! You can book a free consultation with me to learn more. I look forward to hearing from you 🙂
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