So it has been brought to my attention (well I asked actually) that some of you out there want some quick healthy meal ideas for nights where you are short of time. This can apply to any of you ladies out there, mums, late night workers, studyers, or just girls out there being girls, multi-tasking and not having much time to spend making dinners.
Now I consider myself a busy girl, even though well, ahem, I’m much more like a busy lady than girl these days. Regardless, I’m always saying yes to things and always ending up with not much time to cook dinner, especially during the week, yeesh! So here are some things that I do to help with the busy times …
Plan your meals.
Oh the horror, the bore, the OCD. But seriously, it’s necessary! I never thought I would be one of “those” girls, but turns out, life is actually much less stressful if you pull out a bit of the “planning natzi” in you and plan the week’s meals. Not only does it help me with budgeting, but it helps me to plan quick meals on days I know I will be home late (or out all day) and will be wanting a quick option.
I plan out the week’s meal options before the start of the week. I write down what I’m doing on each of those days (and I’ve gotten so anally retentive that I also factor in the weather) and then decide what we will eat that night. From there I do my online shopping and work out what I need to do on my prep day. Dinners are SOO much quicker when you have all of the ingredients and meals are half prepared already.
Yup, sounds like more boring and time consuming doesn’t it. Prep day isn’t actually a whole day. Most of the time it’s an hour or so of prep, but basically it is the things I do to make sure most of the meals for the week are mostly prepared. I co-ordinate this time with when I get my shopping delivered so that everything is done from the get-go. The things you can do with prep day are:
- Cut up meat into portions, marinade, put in zip lock bags and then freeze. These are AWESOME for when you get home late, just whack in the microwave to defrost and then cook.
- Pre-prepare salads – wash and spin some salad leaves in either a salad spinner or by putting in the middle of a tea towel, grabbing all four corners and spinning it in a big circle with your arm. Cut up carrot, cucumber, capsicum, cabbage, snow peas, etc and put with the lettuce. Add some cherry tomatoes to the mix too (they keep amazingly because you don’t have to cut them). Keep in your fridge in between two dry tea towels, it will keep nice and fresh all working week. All you need to do before serving is add some avocado, feta, olives and seeds and you’ve got an amazingly quick dinner side to go with your meat you marinaded from the point above.
- Slow cook meals or batch prepare meals. Things like bolognaise sauce, stew, pulled pork, slow cooked chicken, chilli con carne, all great options to pre-prepare and freeze. All you have to do when you get home is whack it in the microwave, put on some pasta or better yet 90 second rice/quinoa and by the time you go and change out of your clothes you have dinner already sorted.
- Make some pizza bags. Make pizza dough, chop toppings, grate cheese, put it all in zip lock bags or containers and freeze. Move from the freezer to the fridge in the morning and by dinner time all you have to do is heat the oven, scatter over the pizza and within 20 minutes will be enjoying a delish, healthy homemade pizza.
- Chop vegetables and container them. If you have planned to have steamed veg then cut and mix them on prep day. It cuts out about 5-10 minutes of your prep time if all you have to do is empty them into the steamer.
- Roast veggies. Cut up pumpkin, zucchini, sweet potato, egg plant, whatever roasted veg takes your fancy and roast it on prep day so you can add that little bit extra to salads, sandwiches or just have as sides throughout the week.
Supermarket meal list
Do you ever go into the supermarket to get something for dinner and wander aimlessly around for about 20 minutes getting hungrier and hungrier before getting so hangry and frustrated that you just buy something crappy for you? Well writing yourself a list of quick supermarket meals you can throw together may help out. It means that when you are faced with the no-time situation all you need to do is go straight in and get what you need. It will stop you getting tempted by the crap. Some of our quick supermarket eats are
- Yiros – marinated lamb, yiros bread, salad, grated cheese.
- Hot chicken and salad bag. Bread rolls on the side or wrap it up in wrap bread for carbs.
- Pasta, pasta sauce and broccoli. Even better if you make and freeze your own pasta sauce, extra points for that one.
- Steak and steamed veg seriously will take you 15 minutes, TOPS.
And lastly, just keep it simple! Healthy doesn’t have to mean gourmet. Baked beans on rye toast, or eggs with rice and asparagus (ahhh random!!) is a-okay. Simple meals are qupre quick and a great way to throw something together when you are short of time and can’t be fecked slaving over a stove.
So if you are a busy girl and want to eat healthy, try some of my tips! Don’t forget to tell me yours too… what are your go-to quick meals?
The Dietitian Mummy