This might only take me a couple of posts to go over basic ideas from which to build a good diet while cooking for yourself for the first time and on a tight schedule.
It’s not brain surgery, and everyone’s tastes are different, but there are some key things to do to get organized. Be sure to watch the YouTube presentations to help you out. Sure hope my own kids will read this 🙂
The Life-Saving Basics
Have food ready to go in the refrigerator and you won’t stop for take-out on the way home. Have food in the refrigerator and you’ll eat before you leave the house and give in to temptation due to low blood sugar and raging hunger pains!
Stock your refrigerator with the things that are READY TO GO, like:
- chicken: rotisserie from the store, poached, baked, pre-cooked bags (e.g. Costco). The bags/boxes of frozen chicken breasts can be your best value.
- hamburger: preferably higher quality grade
- bacon: bag of cooked and crumbled
- boiled eggs
- ham by the piece, not necessarily pre-sliced, look for low fat and high quality
- quinoa, a gluten free 100% whole grain protein – look for the pre-washed – we love the TruRoots organic brand
The above items will give you the protein for your quick meals. Now add to that colorful fresh vegetables or frozen pre-cut vegetables in bags in the frozen foods section. To make it more appealing, fresh vegetables can’t be beaten, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Cut and have in air-tight containers:
- peppers (green, yellow, red, orange)
- onions (red or white or sweet)
- large bag of baby spinach, and
- lettuce to name some of the many possibilities
These items should make it four days in the refrigerator if they were good quality and cut with a sharp knife. Vegetables can be cut various ways, julienne or regular chop for variety.
Make a Meal in Your Hand
We keep lots of tortillas handy to create a meal. They are usually available in cheese, plain flour, tomato, pesto and whole grain. Technically you don’t even need to dirty a plate (paper plate?), just build your meal on the tortilla.
- Use mayo or ranch dressing for most meals, spread over at least half of the tortilla
- Line with a little of your protein
- Add vegetables
- Fold in sides and roll up or roll up without folding in and hold tight!
The tortilla will roll easier if you warm it slightly in the microwave.
The same ingredients that you’ve stored for the three to four days can be used for a quick salad. Add a baked potato or crusty bun or sliced bread with cheese and you have a wonderful meal.
With Quinoa, Rice or Potatoes
Warm leftover proteins and vegetables and use with Quinoa preferable, since it is a complete protein on its own. Quinoa is the latest rage in cooking and rightly deserves it! My favorite Quinoa dish is so simple to make:
- warm a large frying pan on the stovetop
- fry chopped onions, turn down heat
- add ready-to-use minced garlic depending on taste
- add pre-made quinoa
- add chopped orange and yellow peppers
- when the quinoa is warmed, add a handful of spinach per person eating
- add or subtract vegetables according to taste, but those above really work at our house
- turn up heat, but not high
- when the spinach wilts (cooking) the dish should be ready
There are loads of quinoa recipes on the internet, including a quinoa cake. I’ll post a few soon.
The Wonder of Eggs
Keep them as a quick breakfast helper, for egg salad sandwiches, with a Chef’s Salad, for an omelet or “fry two over easy,” you can’t go wrong with a fridge full of eggs! They don’t go bad very quickly and are the perfect food, and they’re completely healthy for you!
For a big breakfast, lunch OR supper, eggs, cheese, the bagged pre-cooked bacon (see Hormel’s) and vegetables can be used with your vegetables to make a beautiful omelet and a very filling meal.
So, that’s the general plan for the quickest, healthiest way to eat on-the-run. In my house, the super-delicious protein shakes would augment meal or snack time every day. To gain weight, you’d have a shake after a full meal … to lose weight, you have a shake before a meal.
I’m going to go through recipe books that I have (see above for a few) to share some that anyone could try.
- rice cooker (I think rice and quinoa are the easiest thing in the world to cook, but if you can’t boil water, maybe this IS a good idea
- a slow cooker
- deep boiling pan
- pan to saute’ vegetables
- air tight glass (if possible) containers
Almost all of the above can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator for about four days. You should be able to open the fridge and find stacks of prepared food item! If room is an issue, use ziplock bags (especially for the meats).
- Set aside one time during a weekend and one mid-week to cook your hamburger and poach your chicken breasts at the same time that you’re chopping your vegetables. Even rice and quinoa need only be prepared every four days.
- Shop for the week, prepare twice a week around your schedule, and eat for seven days! You’ll have to determine the quantity, but it’s better to chop more than you think is necessary, because there’s always a way to use leftovers quickly.
- To retain optimal freshness, clean up and return food to the fridge quickly after you prepare your meal
Go to http://www.breakfastpower.com for supplements to ensure the best health while you eat foods often deficient in vitamins because of how they’re grown and shipped.
. . . to be continued 😉