Cooking tips with little effort

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Hi guys, 

Does anyone have some tips on what to cook for evening meals that is quick, takes little energy & is healthy & nutritious. I generally eat veg a few times a week, I can sit down to prep the veg in the afternoon then put them in the steamer tea time to cook for half hour while I rest, I have something out the freezer to go with it, either a veggie option or the odd times a chicken breast..The other days it tends to be a microwave meal or pizza out the freezer which I know isn’t healthy as processed & want to eat more healthy. Any tips would be grateful 

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  • Posted

    Hello, I'm not sure if my tips will help but here is how I deal with cooking.

    I cook a big batch of food in an Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker). I make soups or stews in there with any kind of meat or tofu and tons of veggies filled to the top. This way I only have to cook once and I just reheat it in the instant pot as needed. I stick the whole pot in the fridge when I'm done for the day (yay, no messing with boxes of leftovers). If it is just you eating the food lasts for days. If you can get your hand on one, Instant Pots (or similar) are nice to have because you don't need to keep checking the stove or add more water, stir, etc. while cooking. You just put in the food and liquid and press a button and wait for it to beep, then release the pressure. While you wait you can go rest as you don't have to stay there to watch it. Cooking with pressure cookers also cuts down the cooking time. I don't love the texture of pressure cooked veggies (very soft) but it does the job quickly. Soft veggies taste great in soups and strews however. The only downside is washing the pot which I don't enjoy as it is large, but it is dishwasher safe.

    White rice is the staple in my home, we eat it at every dinner. So while the pressure cooker is going I also have a rice cooker going (also electric and not on stove). White rice doesn't go bad easily so I cook a large amount for the family and there is usually leftover at each meal, which I just leave in the rice cooker for a maximum of 3 days. Whenever I need some rice for a quick meal for myself, I just put in a bit of water and press cook to heat leftover rice while heating some leftover veg/protein on the stove or the instant pot. Again the downside is the effort needed to wash the rice pot but soaking and a scrubber or scraper help tremendously.

    In general my tip would be to make more food in one sitting and keep leftovers on hand for quick nutritious meals. It's not as good as freshly made but I would think it beats frozen processed food. It's still more effort to make more food I know so maybe try to make a little more each time to last 2 meals at least.

    Hope this helps a little. Warm regards.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the tips Nyanko. Yes big batch cooking would be a good idea, then maybe I could freeze it rather than eating the same thing every day. That way it’s still good food rather than processed. I have done that with soups before however energy levels are very low at the minute to do all the prep & like you say the mammoth takes of washing up! (I don’t have a dish washer) if only I could win the lottery & have a live in cook & maid ha. I wish! 

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    • Posted

      When I don't have energy to cook at all, we eat food that comes in a can or bag. We eat organic only because my husband is extremely ill and sensitive to chemicals in food and elsewhere. Frozen organic foods are very expensive so we instead eat organic canned beans (refried or baked beans are handy because it's seasoned), canned veg, or sardines (lots of omega 3, lower mercury than tuna), or cheese, and pair it with a carbohydrate like rice, corn chips, tortilla or bread. Not as much prepping/cooking needed. We read food labels to avoid artificial ingredients. I know canned foods are not the most healthy but when you can't cook what can ya do. Include some fresh fruit and veg that requires little prepping (like an apple, baby carrots, a few leaves of lettuce) and you've increased the "healthfulness" of your meal. smile

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    • Posted

      Thanks for taking the time to share Nyanko. 

      Gives me food for thought! Excuse the pun! Oh you got to laugh sometimes ay 🤣

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  • Posted

    I've been trying to simplify my diet and have realised that going back to more old fashioned meals are probably easier and more healthy than a lot of so called healthy foods the shops are full of now a lot of which are full of sugar and preservatives. I've stopped trying to cook meals that are meant to be really healthy as a lot of them use loads of ingredients and take too much time and energy to prepare. I'm noticing that I have a bit more energy since I've been doing this and don't feel as stressed about preparing meals as I used to.

    I try to eat regularly throughout the day as I feel lightheaded and weak when I don't eat. A typical day for me would be porridge for breakfast with almonds, raisins, flaxseed, chia seeds and strawberries, a snack of skimmed milk with raw cacoa powder (unsweetened natural kind from a health food shop) and a banana mid morning, homemade soup (which I batch cook and freeze) and sandwich or beans on toast with a poached egg for lunch, tea and pancake or fruit loaf mid afternoon and at night something like chicken and veg wrapped in foil and oven cooked or a chicken, vegetable and pasta dish. If I'm really struggling a baked sweet potato with a couple of slices of cooked cold turkey and either cooked vegetables or salad. Tinned tuna is a good source of protein and can be added to a baked potato or pasta dish. Tinned rice pudding, pears in natural juice and cinnamon can make a nice desert or yogurt and berries. Smoothies made with natural yogurt honey and berries are good for an energy boost as are snacking on oatcakes, grapes and something like a babybel mini cheese. A couple of squares of dark chocolate is a nice snack for a bit comfort eating. Just try and keep it simple and try to balance the processed stuff ( I eat things like that too when really bad!) with some healthy things. I also sit on a stool when preparing any meals as it saves energy. Hope you get some ideas that you find helpful!

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    • Posted

      Thanks for sharing Elaine. Like you I do use a stool to for at to prep & wash up. It’s been a big help & saves energy. I’m ok for brekkies/ I tend to mix that up a bit, some days I’ll have muesli with rice milk, or poached egg or scrambled egg on gluten free toast or porridge with rice milk. I try to again dairy (mainly milk & cheese) as doesn’t agree with me. For my lunches I prep salad for the week & put in separate containers & have one a day with feta cheese or goats cheese & Humous then a banana & mixed nuts & seeds. So generally that’s good & healthy. I use organic where I can.bits mainly the r enunciated meal I struggle with as energy is less in the evening. I try to avoid pastas & bread but would eat pasta maybe once a week as know it’s quite quick to cook & could maybe eat cold the next day so no need to cook that day. Jacket potato is a good one - no prep & books it’s self - thank you  for that one. I’ve done an omelette a few times, prepped what I want in it in the afternoon & cooks in minute so that was quick also. 

      Thanks again for sharing. 

      Hope you’re having a good day 😊 

      My daughter is cooking some tea for me tonight so that’ll be a treat. Shepherds pie & veg I think. Yum 😊

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    • Posted

      Hi Pet

      Hope you enjoyed being cooked for other night. It's brilliant if you can get someone else to do it for you! One recipe I though of you might like is chicken parcels. All you need to do to make it is slice a courgette and either one large or 2 small tomatoes and arrange them on a piece of tinfoil. Sprinkle the vegetables with either fresh or dried basil (which is good for your digestion) and put a chicken breast on top. The recipe is meant to have mozzarella slices on top of the chicken but you don't need to bother with this if you can't have dairy as the juices that come from the vegetables make the chicken nice and moist anyway. The cheese is just extra flavor or you could maybe use a veggie alternative. Wrap the tinfoil round the ingredients to make a parcel then wrap the whole thing again in another piece of tinfoil. If you do this is prevents any leakages from the first layer of foil if it bursts. Cook in the oven at 220 for electric or Gas 6 for gas for 30- 40 minutes depending on how big the chicken breast is. You could have this with a baked potato which you could also do in the oven if you prefer on wrapped in foil on the same tray. Just start cooking it about 20 minutes before adding the chicken. Or you could microwave it. You could have with either steamed vegetables or some cooked in a small pot. I don't have a steamer so often just boil a start boiling sliced carrot then add something like broccoli and green beans near the end as they only take 5 minutes to the same pot. Or just have a some salad with it.

      I suggested this as it's easy to make and creates very little dishes to wash. You don't even need to wash the tray if nothing leaks from the foil. I think your diet sounds really healthy as it but I understand the problems with evening meals as by that point in the day you really need something to eat to give you the energy to cook a meal. I have allergies to some foods as well such as soya, oranges, kiwi fruits, grapefruits and black pepper. I also need to avoid foods containing sulphites, MSG and sweeteners so it's difficult finding shop bought things I can actually eat which means I have to prepare most things myself. If only you got healthy homemade takeaways!!!

      Hope you managed to get out in the sun yesterday. It was beautiful here with not a cloud in the sky so I made the most of it and managed a walk to the beach and relaxed in the garden topping up my vitamin D for winter. Hope you have a good day!

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    • Posted

      Hi Elaine,

      Yes I enjoyed being cooked for the other night, thank you, it was yummy & they washed up too 😃 oh gosh wouldn’t that just be the answer - if we could get healthy takeaways!! I know there is a meals on wheels service here in the UK (tends to be for the elderly I think, but I guess anyone could use it) they sound all home made but it’s very pricey!! Need to take out a second mortgage! The real answer is like I say- win the lottery & employ a chef & maid! Ha.. it’s good to dream...

      Thank you for the tip on chicken parcels, it sounds a bit more tasty than just chicken on its own. I do put basil & oregano on to give it some taste but like the idea of courgette & tomato wrapped in it. I don’t like to use foil (worry about metals) but I use roasting bags so would work well in a bag as juices wouldn’t escape. All this talk of food is making me quite hungry lol.

      Oh yes I did manage to sit out in the sun in my garden a little yesterday & soak up the vitamin D. Not sure we’ll get many more sunny days like that so I made the most of it 😎

      Just out of interest when you say you have allergies, how does this effect you? When you eat something that doesn’t agree with you? Was it process of elimination or did you have tests done to tell you what your allergies are?

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    • Posted

      Hi Pet

      A roasting bag is a good idea - might try that myself! With the allergies or intolerances (never sure what to call it) I've just realised myself after eating certain foods that they cause reactions in me. Oranges and kiwi fruit make my lips swell any my mouth itchy, soya gives me a bad headache and stomach pains, also salmon makes my face swell up so I avoid them all. I avoid MSG and sulphites as they make me wheezy as I have asthma. It was a dietician who told me to avoid sweeteners which I had noticed before gave me a sore stomach and aspartame makes me wheezy. The dietician also tested me for vitamin deficiencies and told me I was deficient in zinc. I've tried eliminations diets in the past and they made me feel worse so I now just eat what I know agrees with me.

      You might find it helpful to write down how you feel after eating different foods and take note of anything that makes you feel better or worse. Some of the foods that seem to boost my energy the best are sweet potatoes, porridge , oatcakes, brown rice, berries and raw cacoa powder. Weirdly enough all my problems with food only started after I was diagnosed with ME/CFS.

      I'm starving now so off to make a smoothie to keep me going for now. Glad you managed to make the most of the sun!

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    • Posted

      Hmm the mind boggles sometimes weather it is something I’ve eaten that makes me feel worse or something I’ve done as I don’t tend to get the type of reaction you speak of. Expect when I eat cheese or cows milk. I defiantly know when I’ve had them. I feel more dizzy than normal & tummy upset.

      I could eat anything before cfs/me too, it certainly weakens our immune system & makes us delicate little flowers.

      I’ve also tried many elimination diets in the past & even a blood type diet, but I agree sometimes it’s just best to eat what we know agrees. We have to be our own scientists.

      Take care

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  • Posted

    I've learned to keep foods simple. It's a challenge not knowing what the body is going to like this week. I was always a big cook and Baker but I can't remember half of what I used to make. I've learned to find some balance. Stir fried foods are simple easy and fresh. I mix some frozen and fresh. I have chickens now so I eat a ton of eggs. I boil a bunch. And my system likes them. I have a James Beard chef in the family (my new son in law). Learn simple dishes from him. He uses alot of fresh herbs on everything. Cooking chicken eating a bag salad with it. I do eat alot of pasta but my colon likes it. And organics friuts and veggies. Sounds like your doing good. I cannot do processed foods they tear me up. Keeping things simple is best for me in all matters.

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    • Posted

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for taking the time to share. Yes i guess I do have a fairly good balance but always open to new ideas. I like a lot of eggs too. A good source of protein. Your fortunate to have your own chickens. You can’t get any more organic & fresh than that. I hope also that you have experienced some of your son in laws cooking?! I used to do a lot of stir fry’s when I was on a special diet plan for health but lost too weight cutting too many things out & was already quite thin so had to add a little more substance. At the minute I’m not up to doing too much at all so quick & simple is always best. I may try doing a stir fry one night, I can add straight to wok noodles.

      Thank you again.

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