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Quick Semi-Healthy Meals?

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These days, I tend to be out between classes, extracurricular stuff etc. until 10-12 at night every day. By the time I crawl home I am starving but too knackered to even think about cooking, so what usually happens is a frozen pizza gets put in the oven / a Rustler's Rib gets put in the microwave and I munch on that. Now, I realise this isn't the healthiest regime but I just don't have the energy to cook up something from scratch. So what I'm asking you lovely, creative people with taste is: what are some things which are super-duper quick to prepare but are actually sort of good for me? Thank you :blush:!

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Wholemeal pasta! Low GI and I reckon it's tastier than the other stuff. If need be you can cook a batch of pasta and store it in the fridge (just make sure you rinse it once cooked otherwise it will go all gloopy!), and just re heat as you need it.

 

Sauces can include tomato based ones with any added veg you like. Other quick additions; cooked bacon, grated cheese, chopped up sausage, chopped up cooked chicken, pesto sauce, pine nuts.

 

The Dolmio range of 'throw on top' sauces (in tubs not jars) are super quick and pretty tasty for those ultra tired days.

 

Jacket potatoes, any fillings you like from baked beans to left overs. 10-15 mins in the microwave, and if neccessary, another 5-10 in the oven. If using sweet potatoes, I recommend NOT oven baking them.

 

Porridge It doesn't have to be a breakfast thing. You can make your own, or use some instant stuff, but make sure you add some healthy fruits, maybe nuts and seeds too. It's filling and yummy for a tired tummy!

 

I'll ponder this some more Giulia, and get back here. :D

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Do you like chopping things?

 

This is quick but it does mean about 10 mins prepping and then 10 mins cooking

 

whilst water is heating for pasta

 

Shred a cabbage (savoy is good) as many leaves as you like about 3-4 for one

bacon cut into pieces

pine nuts

finely chopped chilli (as much as you like)

finely chopped garlic

 

whilst pasta is cooking I use taglitelle (the dried 10min variety) everything else in a pan and cook for that 10 minutes in olive oil (I sometimes add a tomato as well just for a bit of variety) add the two together and voila healthy and tasty (well I think so :D ) top with grated cheese if you want

 

I will try and think of some more if I can

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I sometimes cook up a big batch of tuna pasta bake which lasts me about 5 days, with decent-sized portions. It's pretty quick to make and then you only need to reheat what you need during the week.

 

Excuse the lack of precise instructions. I'm pretty lazy and just throw in random amounts of stuff. blush.gif

 

I'm also writing this out for Frankie, who liked it when she was here and has been nagging me for the recipe. giggle.gif

 

1 large tin of tuna (425g)

1 jar of tuna pasta bake sauce (640g)

1 kilo or so of frozen vegies

1 cup of pasta

Handful of grated cheese

 

Steam the vegies.

Cook the pasta.

Throw vegies, pasta, tuna and sauce into the dish and mix up. Add some potatoes if you like (I don't, because they take extra time to wash, peel and cook wink.gif).

Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and throw the whole lot in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted.

 

Voila!

 

You can, of course, use fresh vegies, but that takes a lot more time to chop up and whatnot.

 

The frozen vegies I use include cauliflower, broccoli, beans and carrot. I occasionally buy a packet of shredded cabbage and carrot and steam that up separately. I also have a bag of smaller mixed vegies, which includes peas and corn, and I heat a cup of those up in the microwave while the other vegies are steaming.

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Any kind of salad is a quite fast and quite healthy meal. Lettuce, cucumber, sweet pepper, shrimps and sunflower seeds. Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion and feta cheese. Or just anything that you like really.

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I am with Chrissy on the Wholemeal pasta thing! I often make a sauce by dry frying some courgettes, mushrooms, peppers, onions and I then add some half fat creme fraiche which is nice. If the creme fraice is a bit thick, you can add some milk. Yum Yum Yum!!

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Cous Cous is very quick and easy, try some of Ainsley Harriott’s brand with a can of Mackerel. Preparation time, five minutes!

 

 

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What you really need (and what any really busy person really needs) is a slow cooker. I go a slow cooker a few yars ago and I can honestly say it's the best piece of kitchen equipment I've ever had - it gets used all the time!

 

The beauty of it all is that you just chuck stuff in it in the morning and come teatime you have a delicious meal. Not only that, but you'l have a few protions left over to freeze too, so next time you can just defrost a meal instead of cooking from scratch - how awesome is that?

 

Some of the things I regularly use my slow cooker for are:

 

- soup

- chilli

- curry

- stew

- bolognese

 

I also do pot roasts, chicken in redwine sauce, actually I've done pretty much anything you can think of in it. It gets used at least twice a week in our house and I always freeze the extra portions for another day, so I always have a freezer full of delicious, nutritious meals to hand. If I know I'm going to be pushed for time in the morning, I'll prep all the veg the night before and then bung everything into it in the morning, switch it on and leave it.

 

In fact, I've used my slow cooker so much I've pretty much worn it out and got a new, slightly bigger one, for Xmas. Hurrah! :)

 

Aother thing you can do is, if you even have just one day per week when you don't have classes or anything else on, invest a little time in bulk cooking. After a couple of weeks, you'll find you always have a variety of ready-made meals to choose from and you'll never have to resort to frozen pizzas and micowave meals again. Homemade stuff tastes better than shop bought stuff anyway. You can also double up on things, e.g.

 

You're making bolognese...

 

Make a HUGE vat of it and you can also have lasagne (do individual ones in those little foil containers - they freeze really well!) and chilli (just transfer some of the mince and sauce to a different pan, add chilli and kidney beans).

 

There you go - you now have three different basic meals from one base. And if you've made enough, you'll have one portion to eat and one to freeze of each, so that's 6 meals taken care of.

 

Same with chicken - roast a large chicken and do two different sauces - perhaps a curry and a redwine sauce. You now have a roast chicken dinner, curry, coque au vin,. and you can use all the fiddly little extra bits off it to make chicken and vegetable soup. Wow - you've just got four different meals out of it!

 

You just have to be inventive and use what little time you have wisely. I us these tricks all the time and save load of money as well as having more free time. ;) Honestly, those little tin foil trays with the lids are awesome - I use them all the time! And they stack very neatly in the freezer too, taking up very little space. And because the portion size is limited, the potential to drop a couple of pounds is there too if you wanted...

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Ditto on the slow cooker, Giulia! I love that invention :D.

 

Can I ask, do you have time during the day when you're able to eat? I mean, if you made things in bulk like Kell suggested or even just the day before and had leftovers you could bring along with you the next day, then you wouldn't be starving by the time you got home and wouldn't have to eat that late at night.

 

Ditto too on what Sara said about salads. I have one every day for lunch (and sometimes dinner too) and pile all sorts of good things on it. Feta cheese, red onion, mini farfale pasta, mushrooms, green pepper, along with tuna or chicken that I've grilled up. Super easy, and I just toss it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar :D.

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When I was working in an office, I used to take homemade soup in a flask for lunch. I would make it on the weekend and freeze individual portions. Then all I had to do was take a portion out at night and it would be defrosted come morning. I would then whack it into the microwave and blast it till it was piping hot and pour it into a preheated flask (always heat it by pouring boiling water into it and leaving it while the soup heats up). I still love soup now and make it a couple of times a week with enough to do me for lunch for about 3 days (Xan loves soup too). There's no end to the combinations you can make. My favourites include Chickpea and chorizo, broccoli and stilton, tomato and basil, Thai sweet potato and coconut, and roasted pepper and butternut squash - all are delicious and filling. Take a crusty breadroll along with you too and you'll be full up till teatime.

 

The other great thing about soup is that it's relatively cheap to make, you can make it in large quantities, and you can fill it full of whatever you like. It's the way I make sure Xan and I get our 5-a-day, actually. If you're having a veg-based soup for lunch, then veg with your evening meal, then you can easily hit five (and usually more!). I also squeeze extra veg into my sauces (my homemade bolognese sauce has mushrooms, peppers, courgette, onion and garlic with the tomatoes, all whizzed smooth; then I add chunky veg to it too - double the veg!).

 

Another multi-meal goodie is a nice beef joint. I often get a nice bit of brisket (which is pretty inexpensive) and whack it in the slow cooker. We'll have a full Sunday dinner off it, sarnies the next day, and I can make stovies or a stew with the leftovers too.

 

You can tell I'm used to stretching things out - I have two culinary titles - Lady Leftovers and Baroness Bulk Cooking. ;)

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Just thought I'd give you the links to two of my favourite soup recipes (one for the slow cooker, one for in a pan)and a couple of others to try too.

 

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Northumbrian Broth

 

Butternut squash and red pepper soup

Ingredients:

1 large onion

3 red peppers (or a mixture of colours, either red, orange or yellow, but avoid green or you'll get an odd colour)

3 medium sweet potatoes

3 medium carrots

1 tsp oil

1 stock cube

enough water to cover veg

salt and pepper to taste

 

METHOD:

1. Finely dice the onion and lightly sautee it in the oil in a deep pan/soup pot (I used basil oil and it was GORGEOUS, but I've also used chilli oil and it's equally good)

2. De-seed the peppers and dice

3. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and carrots

4. Add the peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes to the pan, and add enough water to cover all the veg. Add the stock cube.

5. Bring to the boil and simmer till the veg is tender.

6. Use a hand blender (or food processer) to blend the soup to a smooth consistency.

 

Once you've blended the soup, you can add a little more water or stock if you think it's a little thick for your tastes.

 

This recipe should serve 4-6 people depending on how big your bowls are and how thick/thin you like your soup. I'd say 6 posh dinner starters, 4 light lunches, or 3 whopping-great filling lunches.

 

 

Roasted tomato and red pepper soup

Ingredients:

1 large carton cherry tomatoes (or tin of tomatoes or jar of passata if you prefer)

1 large onion (pealed and cut in half)

2 large red peppers (de-seeded and cut in half)

2 large cloves fresh garlic (pealed)

salt, black pepper, basil and oregano (to taste)

stock pot/cube (vegetable, chicken or ham all work very well)

spray oil

water

 

- Pre-set oven to 200C

- Spread the tomatoes*, peppers and garlic cloves on a large baking tray and spritz with spray oil

- Pop in the oven for about 30 mins (till the garlic is soft, and the tomatoes, peppers and onions all lightly roasted)

- Whack the whole lot in the blender and whiz till smooth

- Stick it all in a large pan, add the same amount again of water drop in the stock pot/cube

- Add salt, black pepper, basil and oregano to taste (you can also add spices if you fancy - a srinkle of chilli is lovely!)

- simmer for about 10-15 minutes

- serve

 

 

* if you're using tinned tomatoes or passata, obviously don't put them on the baking tray!

 

This should make 2-3 generous servings if you're using a carton of cherry tomatoes, and 3-4 if using a tin of tomatoes or jar of passata. It's easy to adjust the amounts if you want to make a larger or smaller amount and you can even freeze batches of it for future use if you like!

 

If you leave out the water and stock pot/cube, this makes an excellent pasta sauce too!

 

You can also use this as a base for adding other items to the soup, e.g. kidney beans, chickpeas, bacon, chorizo, etc; whatever you fancy really (chickpea and chorizo is a favourite combo of mine!).

 

 

Sweet potato and butternut squash soup

(serves 4-6)

1 small butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded and diced)

2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)

1 medium onion (peeled and diced)

1 clove garlic (peeled and crushed)

Oil

Water

Stock cube

Season All, salt and black pepper

 

- Sautee the onion and garlic in a little olive oil.

- Put all the veg along with the stock (chicken or vegetable) and spice.

- Simmer till squash and sweet potatoes are tender.

- Blend with a hand blender (or put in a blender) till smooth

- Serve with salt and black pepper to taste.

* This makes quite a thick soup, so you can add however much water you need to make the desired consistency, hence the large serving amounts)

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Thanks Kylie for the recipe!!! :friends3: Awesomeness, now I get to make it.

 

As for the original question, the best advice I could give you is to just make so-called 'normal' food and make a big badge of it at a time and then get a lot of small containers and put the stuff in their, already proportioned. That way you'll eat only what you have in the container, and won't go for seconds if you're really hungry or just really like the food. Also, if one has a hard time with veggies, I suggest that when you buy them fresh, wash them and slice them up and then put them in a container. This way when you're going to eat, you only need to get the veggies from the container and don't have to start slicing them up everytime you're having lunch/dinner.

Edited by frankie

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Also, if one has a hard time with veggies, I suggest that when you buy them fresh, wash them and slice them up and then put them in a container. This way when you're going to eat, you only need to get the veggies from the container and don't have to start slicing them up everytime you're having lunch/dinner.

You can also get pre-prepared veg, but on the frezer and fresh produce sections of most supermarkets. I'll freely admit to tocking up on things like frozen sweetcorn, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, and my sister reglarly buys pre-sliced carrots, peppers and onions because, as she works THREE jobs (!!!), she doesn't have much time to prepare meals either.

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You can also get pre-prepared veg, but on the frezer and fresh produce sections of most supermarkets. I'll freely admit to tocking up on things like frozen sweetcorn, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, and my sister reglarly buys pre-sliced carrots, peppers and onions because, as she works THREE jobs (!!!), she doesn't have much time to prepare meals either.

True :) Personally I don't go for those very often because the pre-preparing must add to the price and I'm approaching all things food from a student's point-of view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The carrot slices my sister gets are Asda Smart Price so they're literally pennies. Not much difference to buying them whole, peeling them and chopping them yourself - except you save the time of having to actually do that. Or you could always just go for all frozen which are cheap and don't go off, so you're saving money that way too. Added bonus to frozen is that as they're frozen so soon after picking, they're often "fresher" and retain more nurtrients than the "fresh" produce. ;)

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... whoa, guys! How gorgeously useful you all are :) baked potato, pasta bake, homemade salad, couscous and soup in particular all sound like very ingenious ideas, I shall experiment with the recipes / ideas you have given me and report back on my success (well, I'm hoping for success, anyway)!

 

Unfortunately I don't really have days when I don't have anything on (I know, what a gripping life I do lead...), but I will try a little - or a lot of - bulk cooking should one ever appear on the horizon :lol: I do, I should perhaps precise, eat lunch. Most days, even. Just doesn't seem to matter much though, I always run around so much / use up so much brain-juice in the afternoon that no matter what I've had during the day, I still get home feeling I could just gobble up one of the small children I live with.

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Just doesn't seem to matter much though, I always run around so much / use up so much brain-juice in the afternoon that no matter what I've had during the day, I still get home feeling I could just gobble up one of the small children I live with.

 

 

Well, there would be quite a bit of protein for you there! :giggle2: Although I'd stick with girls; sugar and spice and all things nice! :wink:

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