Be honest… Have you ever eaten a bowl of cereal over the sink for dinner? Has a bag of microwave popcorn ever substituted for lunch? Eating well has everything to do with having a few basic staples on hand in your kitchen at all times.
With three simple tips in mind, you can begin to create quick, easy, ready in ‘30 minutes or less’ type meals that will satisfy your hunger, won’t break the bank and will actually taste good.
Tip #1: Stock Up on Dry and Canned Goods
The ‘dry goods’ that every cook needs to make basic nutritious meals include a selection of your favourite dried pastas, grains, canned beans, dry lentils and jarred sauces and pestos. Throw in some canned fish, chicken, beef or vegetable stock and you now have the beginnings of a large variety of stews, soups and pasta dishes.
Tip #2: Add Frozen for Fibre and Nutrients
Adding vegetables that have been flash-frozen, keeps their vitamin count intact as well as adding fibre and colour to whatever you are cooking. Look for frozen medleys of vegetables that can be added to pasta sauces to give them some oomph, as well as complimenting lentil and grain dishes. Flash-frozen fruits can be added to smoothies, and baked desserts and are a great way to enjoy seasonal fruits all year round.
Tip #3: Chop Fresh for Extra Flavour
Keeping a bag of sweet onions, like the Vidalia variety, and garlic on hand in your pantry is the easiest way to add some depth of flavour to any of the dishes your dry and frozen goods will create. Simply chop onions and garlic and saute slowly on medium heat until they caramelize. Only then add your sauces or stocks and frozen veggies and pastas or grains. Your taste buds will thank you. Top with some julienne red pepper strips for a tasty finish.
Once you get used to buying and stocking these staple pantry items as a part of your meal prep habits, planning dinner should take about five minutes of mental time on your commute home. If you start to keep a running shopping list of dry, frozen and fresh items, then you can even reduce your shopping trips to weekly or biweekly outings, reducing your need to order take-out, or even worse, eating your dinner in a bowl over the sink.