Eating a healthy variety of food and cooking it in little time

Eating a healthy variety of food and cooking it in little time
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#1

Not sure where this should go, so I’m putting it here. I like my junk food as much as the next person, but I also know I can’t eat that more than 2-3 times a month.

My standard move is to have us make a large dinner and pack portions of it for lunch the next day. A significant amount of time is spent in planning out the menu for the week, and doing the cooking. In our household we take turns cooking based on who’s home first. I’ve found that there are two basic issues with this plan:

  1. Flavorful, robust meals tend to take a long time and have a large number of steps. I like to eat fresh fruits and veggies at every meal, so we’re talking about side dishes that complement a main dish, or large amounts of chop/prep. Great example, last night I roasted eggplant and made a sauce for the eggplant, this side dish took 40+ minutes to make. Sure it cooked while I made the main dish but that’s still a minimum 1hr meal from start to finish. We already add a fresh salad with veggies to each dinner.

  2. Fast, easy to prep meals tend to be very boring. There are exceptions of course but repetition kills those quickly. And even if they’re quick if I add a side dish like roasted beets or the above eggplant I’m looking at a bunch of wait time while those items cook.

I’ve done the food delivery services, I really don’t care for them. They tend to lean more towards #2 above, with flavorful, but easy quick meals, nothing special really. And I live <5mi from 10+ Grocery chains, so getting good food isn’t an issue for me.

So I guess I’m looking for sharing good recipe sources, good ideas for saving time in the kitchen. I’ve been told prepping everything in one day is a good way to save time, but I feel like that only wastes a weekend when there’s always down time during cooking and chopping items only to put them back in the fridge means more dishes to do.


#2

Or, you’re “stuck at the office” again. Not your fault the boss is riding you.


#3

Instant Pot and recipes for it are awesome. Chop stuff up, toss it in, turn it on, it’ll turn itself off in 30-40min, then you have to dish it out and let it cool, because contents are super-heated. Makes ~6 meals. We make soups and curries for the most part and supplement them with grains or salads.


#4

Can you make more than one dish at a time in the instant pot? Say a savory meat dish, and then in another pan/area some garlicy veggies? Or is it one pot one meal kind of stuff?


#5

What kind of food you like? A well cooked and tasty noodle does not take more than 20 minutes.There are variations of Indian food that can be done quickly if you supplement your raw materials carefully. regardless, 1 hr cook time is I believe a well spent time; It’s less than 5% of your time in a day.


#6

I suspect it’s one dish at a time. I would just toss the meat in with the garlicy veggies!

IMO 1hr is way too long to spend on cooking every night, but that might be because I don’t enjoy cooking.


#7

I love all kinds of food. Tonight I’m doing a braised catfish dish with brussel sprouts, tomorrow we’ll have pasta with meat sauce.

Any good recipes?


#8

Try /r/cooking on Reddit. Here is one example.; An hour well spent and you can reuse in day two.


#9

A number of things can be cooked in a microwave, even though the recipe may be fairly different. For example, fish like salmon in a closed microwaveable container with soy sauce and sugar can be cooked in 5-10min and is ready to serve. Many vegetables can be effectively steamed in the bags they come in by microwaving them for 3min or so (green beans, broccoli etc). Good food can often be fast food if you adapt your cooking style / techniques. Sometimes it’s harder to cook larger portions this way, but for just 1-2 people it’s pretty easy.


#10

The best way to cook salmon is to sear it a little on a pan at low-medium heat on the skin side (even if the skin is off), then flip it and stick it in the oven for ~8 minutes at 350F. Soy sauce, lime juice, salt and pepper on both sides. :thumbsup:


#11

Most prepared food that you pay for is engineered for taste rather than nutrition. This typically means way more salt than necessary, added sugar, added fat, and very calorie dense. This is because most consumers will select food based on taste rather than nutrition, often applying pointless restrictions like gluten-free rather than concerning themselves that a single one of their meals containing 1200+ calories.

Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad, but if you seek out the type of food that you crave when you’re hungry (most people do) it’s generally not going to be healthy. If you want to eat healthy a simple meal would be a $1 steamer bag of California blend frozen vegetables (add seasoning and perhaps some butter to taste) served with a protein (lean meat, canned beans, or whatever protein source you prefer), ensuring you don’t skimp on the fat to the point where you don’t feel sated.

Generally (but not always), the more you process what you eat or put effort into flavoring (spices aside) the less healthy it’s going to be for you.


#12

It’s not pointless to the ~2% of the people who are allergic to gluten.


#13

If that was a joke, then please ignore the following. They are not marketing “gluten free” to 2% of the market. They’re jumping on the bandwagon dujour. Just like natural, organic, free-range, recycled, recyclable, low carbs, high carbs, low fat and high fat, going back to when I was young of “no msg”, or “packed” with fluoride.

IMHO, they could care less who is getting a benefit or hurt by their food, at least so much as the hurt side is cost beneficial regardless of legal claims. I’m not saying they are monsters, because they probably don’t think this way, but their actions and results mean more than hopes and wishes. Their frequent hammering of suppliers on costs, making senior mgmt bonuses dependent on quarterly or annual numbers, and squeezing expenses instead of improving efficiency almost always lead to less safe working conditions, less safe products, and lower quality products.


#14

It may be that some consumers are jumping on a band-wagon without a good reason, but I’m glad there are lots of gluten-free options now, because about a decade ago it was very difficult for people with the allergy to have any food choices. They had to cook for themselves all the time and could never eat out. Now it’s everywhere, even on restaurant menus. In addition to allergies, a lot more people have a gluten sensitivity, but they may not even be aware of it because their symptoms aren’t that severe. We still don’t know all the side effects. Some people get eczema, others flatulence. I know someone who well into their 30s (before they learned about gluten) thought it was completely normal to be extremely sleepy after every meal.

There are laws regarding product labels, and “organic” and “free-range” have legal FDA definitions. “Natural” did not have an FDA definition, but lawsuits established that synthetic is not “natural.”


#15

I hear ya. My wife’s been a vegetarian for almost 30 years. Can you imagine going to a nice steakhouse and having a salad? Soup and salad was about all she could eat when we went out, at any restaurant. Now that there are a lot more options, we prefer to eat in. :slight_smile:

They should come out with gluten free marijuana. :wink:

Finally, I take the laws on product labeling with a big salt lick. I’ve seen honey labeled as organic. A honey bee can travel over a mile in any direction from it’s hive. Now it is possible that someone bought a few thousand acres and planted them in organic clover just to produce organic honey, but I’d have to see it to believe it.


#16

My honey is certified organic, all the way from Brazil. It was cheaper than the non-certified honey I was buying before, but slightly more expensive than the one labeled “local”. Unfortunately I know of at least one local producer right next to a field with the highest pesticide use in the area (i discovered that in the local air quality control board maps), so for now I decided to stay away from it.

Hey, at least it’s not gluten-free :laughing:


#17

And it’s not Brazilian beef. :smile:


#18

My go-to healthy carbs (all whole grains with a relatively high dietary fiber to total carbohydrate ratio) that are quick and easy (everything under one minute prep time).
• couscous - Put in a bowl w/ water and a dash of salt. 2 minutes in the microwave
• oat bran - Also, put in a bowl w/ water and a dash of salt. 2 minutes in the microwave
• quinoa - Cook in a rice cooker w/ the white rice setting. Less than a minute to prep. Cooking time depends on your rice cooker and how much you’re cooking.
• brown rice - Cook in a rice cooker using the brown rice setting. Cooking time depends on your rice cooker and how much you’re cooking.
• freekeh - Also, cook in a rice cooker using the brown rice setting. Cooking time depends on your rice cooker and how much you’re cooking.
• beans - Canned beans. 1 minute in the microwave.
• shredded wheat cereal (I get the ones w/ only two ingredients (100% whole grain wheat and BHT added to help preserve freshness) or three ingredients (added oat bran as a third ingredient)) - put in bowl with milk of choice

There are endless ways you can modify the recipes but for all the above (sans canned beans and cereal) you just need water and a bit of salt. Water & salt is what I do 90% of the time but occasionally I’ll add rosemary, thyme, sage, seasoned salt, and/or cajun seasoning.


#19

I tried a hybrid approach to this last night, I microwaved my brussels sprouts in the microwave with just a touch of water to steam them. I did 3 minutes. Then it continued roasting them as I normally would. The 3 minutes in the microwave easily saved me 15-20 minutes of cooking time. I couldn’t tell a difference in the taste, and it got my meal on the table 20 minutes sooner.


#20

Actually, gluten-free items at restaurants are largely pointless to those who legitimately suffer from celiac disease (allergic to gluten).
Since restaurants know that most people who order gluten-free items are doing so to be trendy (or whatever other crazy reason they invented) those menu items might not include wheat, but often will include trace amounts of gluten (whether through included ingredients or contamination through utensils in the kitchen). This means someone with celiac disease often can’t simply order those menu items.

Here’s an example of the frustration faced:
https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiacgirl/gluten-free-food-in-restaurants/