Life skill #30: 7 Foods that make it easy to cook from home

*I’m beginning a series to teach life skills every adult should have.

Ideally, you would have gone to the grocery store and have tons of fresh veggies and defrosted meat at home. Or you would have prepped something and put it in your crockpot in the morning, ready for you when you get home. But most of us are not superhumans.

We know there are so many reasons to cook at home, from cost and time savings to health, improving your cooking skills, to being able to eat and relax in your own home with your loved ones. But there’s also quite a case for ordering takeout. After an exhausting day at work and facing the daunting tasks of grocery shopping, meal planning and washing dishes, and with options like Seamless at our fingertips, it can be hard to avoid the siren call of takeout or delivery. But after you have that meal, you’re really just setting yourself up for more days of Seamless delivery, and the food isn’t even that good. You know that you can make something just as good and twice as healthy by yourself but who has the time?

The secret to picking cooking over takeout is to make it as easy as possible to cook (and also hating all your takeout and delivery options) by having your kitchen stocked with ingredients to make quick and easy meals. They are all foods that you can keep in your pantry, fridge or freezer for weeks and you’ll be happy to have them the next time you are in a jam. Here are seven foods that will help you avoid Seamless.

  1. Proteins that doesn’t need to be defrosted

Chicken and pork are quintessential dinner foods. However, they require

advance planning. You can defrost a chicken in a water bath but that’s just extra effort that will make you give up and run to the safety of your apps. What will be less stressful is having foods that quickly defrost or don’t need to be defrosted before cooking – meats like shrimp, hamburgers, turkey and fish burgers can be stored in your freezer for awhile. Tofu and eggs can sit in your fridge for awhile. You can keep canned meats in your pantry, like sardines, anchovies, spam, salmon, tuna. You can just put these meats in the oven or fry them up fairly quickly. Serve with leftover grains or cook with fresh or frozen vegetables. It’s an easy and simple meal planning. The hardest part often is figuring out what to eat. And sometimes figuring out what the meat is solves most of the planning stress. What you’ll get at a restaurant is really just a meat on grains or salad anyway.

 

  1. Spices

It’s hard to have fresh spice on hand at all times so dried spices are a must for

impromptu meals. Salt and pepper are givens. A bit of hard parmesan will keep

in your fridge for awhile and will make your last minute pastas taste that much more special. A little vinegar can add needed acid to your dish. You can roast the frozen vegetables like brussel sprouts with dried rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil. Without proper spices, your meal will seem much more bland and unappetizing. With proper use of spices, possibly even some garnishes if you have them, will give you a restaurant-quality meal.

 

  1. Grains

Of all the things on this list, this item is most likely already to be in your pantry. Buying grains in bullk has always made good sense because they can store well. Rice, quinoa and pasta are great bases for meals and they keep well for a long

time. Add some of the other foods on this list and make a hearty pasta dish (shrimp, spices and frozen vegetables)

 

  1. Frozen or canned vegetables

Because sometimes you don’t have fresh vegetables on hand or they’ve all

gone bad. Frozen vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh because they’re picked at the peak of their ripeness. Plus they add the convenience that they can just stick around. Frozen spinach, broccoli, peas and carrots are great for stirfries. You can add the stock to make a great sauce. Frozen onions can be added to pastas. Frozen peppers can be used for a frittata or omelet.

 

  1. Frozen fruits

A smoothie can be a healthy if unexpected option for dinner. If you have some bananas going bad, peel them and put them in a freezer bag and freeze them. Add some frozen fruits. You can also use some of the other ingredients on this list to make a great smoothie. Add spices like turmeric, frozen spinach. The great thing is all you need to do except put in everything in a blender and you have a healthy easy option. I also like to add vitamins and supplements that I hate eating into my smoothies to make them healthier. I like adding new age ingredients like maca, turmeric, ashwandagah, chlorophyll, collagen peptides or opening vitamin pills into the smoothie. The best thing is that this dinner doubles as a dessert.

 

  1. Prepared meals

The cheapest way to do this is to make bulk servings of food in advance,

freeze them and defrost when needed. But there’s nothing wrong with buying the occasional frozen pizza or frozen dinner on hand. Even some ramen every now and then won’t kill you. It might even be as healthy as going out to eat.

 

  1. Bone broth

Save your bones from a night when you were better at planning, put it in a crockpot with salt and pepper and bay leaves. Even after the first batch, you can freeze what you make and add additional water for a watered down second batch. Even this watered down second batch can give you the nutrients of collagen and is so much better than the broth or stock you buy at the store.

Bone broth is very versatile. You can just drink it straight, which can be very filling if you’re not that hungry. You can also use the broth when you’re cooking grains to add additional nutrients and flavor.

 

While it may still be daunting to start a quick meal after you’ve braved your work and your commute, soon you’ll be on autopilot. This will also be helpful when you get too tired to meal plan.

What foods do you keep in your kitchen for quick and easy dinners? What meals are the easiest to make last minute?

 

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