This day and age everyone seems to be time poor. Too busy doing things to, well, do other things. But honestly, there is no excuse of too little time when it comes to eating real food, good food, even (dare I say it) healthy food.
Is there such a thing as not enough time?
It takes just as much time to buy a ready meal as it does to buy a few simple ingredients, so no time savings there. If you are time poor, then time savings are best undertaken in the kitchen. There are several ways to cook that do not take a lot of time or can even save time.
Easiest, especially if you actually like to cook, is cook more than you need. Love a good spaghetti dish, double the ingredients and then freeze half. Your own ready meal, if you like. But, much, much healthier as you know what went into it.
You take the Fast Road and I’ll take the Slow Road
Now I get that some times, maybe most of the time, you don’t wish to spend hours cooking. The way I look at it spending time on cooking is a real treat and should be thought of that way. Maybe save those time rich recipes for special occasions or when the mood strikes. But when you don’t have or don’t wish to make the time, it doesn’t mean you should eat badly.
When I don’t feel like cooking, I go one of two ways; the slow road, or the fast road.
The Slow Road means throwing a bunch of things in a big old pot and in the oven for hours on end on a very low temperature. You could also use a slow cooker. This is a great one for amazing tastes and cheaper meals as you can use cheaper, tastier cuts of meat. (Or for my veggie friends. swap chunkier veg for the meat.) It’s easy and takes almost no effort. I can have a slow cooker dinner on the go in 5 minutes. And then get on with other things while the magic happens.
How do these sound?
Braised beef with cranberries & spices
Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine (Vegetarian)
And, my all time favourite, and not just because I live in France ~ Boeuf Bourguignon with baguette dumplings (though personally I leave off making the dumplings most times, though they are delicious.)
I very often simplify the above dishes if feeling time poor or not inclined to cook. You can skip the browning of the meat and simply put all the ingredients into a big pot. Yes, there is a slight difference, but it certainly doesn’t impact hugely if you don’t brown.
With all of the above recipes I normally put in the slow cooker (or oven on 100 C / 212 F) in the morning or at lunch time, and simply let it cook all day until I am ready to eat. You don’t need to stick to exact times when slow cooking.
Life in the Fast Lane
The Fast Road. I qualify a fast meal as 10 – 15 minutes, from prep to table. After all, we are trying to compete with ready meals that take 5 – 10 minutes to microwave. So for 5 minutes more you can have something fresh, far tastier and far far far better for you. And of course you can feel virtuous when serving to yourself or others.
I have a regular stock of ‘Go To’ recipes that are my favourites, so I don’t even have to think when I am tired or time poor and want food fast.
Fast Food can be Good Food
Such as: Spaghetti with sardines
Asparagus with chorizo and croutons
And for fish lovers (though also can be done with chicken) you can’t beat ‘En Papillote’ as a quick way to cook an all in one meal, and healthy too. You simply put all the ingredients in a paper or foil packet and bake. Salmon is superb for this (Salmon en Papillote) but trout and other fillet of fish work well too.
And for the vegetarians:
Quinoa with Celery and Mushrooms
Stuffed Brie and so many many more… (the internet is your oyster.)
I recommend for any of the above, you find 2 or 3 favourites that you can cook without thinking and generally always have the basic ingredients to hand, with only the possible need to buy the odd fresh item, or take something out of the freezer.
There’s an App for that
These days there is an App for everything, and that includes recipes. Many offer the option of creating shopping lists from recipes, making it easy when you go to the shop to know what you need. Having a list means you don’t waste time in shops.
Or if I am in a store and something is on offer and I want to know what else I need to go with it, I can search my App, choose my recipe and buy the rest of my ingredients then and there. So, no excuse on the ‘I don’t know what to cook tonight’, ‘I am too tired to cook’, or the standard ‘I don’t have time to cook’ front. With so many tools to help, these excuses are just that, excuses. So no more excuses and bon appétit!