Whilst there is a vast range of ready meals, processed foods and microwave meals available in the supermarkets, these are usually high in sugar, and/or less beneficial fats, as well as salt and additives, that may not be beneficial for our health. The manufacturing processes these go through and the amount of time they sit on the shelf often means they are often lacking in much needed nutrients. For these reasons, a nutritious home cooked meal is always the best choice for our suppers (I will do a separate article on eating out).
I know the last thing many of us want to do when we get home from work is cook but cooking a nutritious meal from scratch need not take a long time. There are so many dishes that are quick and easy to make but that are also tasty and nutritious. If you find yourself really short of time on some days try making casseroles, stews, curries etc. at the weekend or one evening during the week and freezing them into individual portions for quick and easy mid-week suppers. Just take it out of the freezer the night before and pop it in the fridge to defrost slowly over 24 hours so its ready for you to quickly reheat whilst you are having a shower/bath or doing any admin when you get home.
I have written below some quick and easy supper ideas to inspire you. I have also put a list of cupboard essentials for cooking when we are busy.
Here are some ideas to inspire you:
Stir-fry with lots of different coloured vegetables. Add some strips of chicken, turkey, prawns or tofu. Flavour with fresh ginger and garlic, or just olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle on sesame seeds or cashew nuts before serving with brown rice (ready cooked in sachets if no time to boil from scratch).
Red lentil pasta, prawns and lots of sautéed mixed vegetables (onions, garlic, peppers) in a tomato or pesto sauce. Stir through and wilt spinach just before serving or serve with side salad.
Grilled/baked chicken or fish (add herbs, spices and seasonings to taste), serve with brown rice or new potatoes, and a big plate of steamed vegetables/fresh salad.
Grilled lean meat or fish on a bed of quinoa, with steamed or roasted vegetables with dressing of fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.
Thai green chicken or chickpea curry made with a green curry paste (supermarket) & coconut milk, baby corn, mange tout and carrot strips. Serve with rice noodles or brown rice.
Mixed vegetable omelette (eg. white/sweet potato, courgettes, peppers, red onion, etc) with a large salad.
Chicken, prawn, or tofu and vegetable skewers (use red onions, courgettes, mushrooms, etc). Served with brown rice.
Small baked white or sweet potato with tuna, chicken, cold meats, or beans and a large mixed salad.
Puy lentil salad with chopped spring onions, chopped tomato, chopped basil and feta cheese. Serve with large mixed green salad.
Red peppers stuffed with brown rice and mixed vegetables (e.g. onion, leeks, courgettes, etc.) and herbs (e.g. thyme and oregano). Bake in the oven and add a slice of goat’s cheese just before serving. Serve with a large salad sprinkled with pine nuts.
Smoked salmon, eggs, spinach and tomatoes/mushrooms with vegetable fritters (carrot/parsnip/potato/celeriac) or wholemeal/GF toast (basically breakfast for dinner – ‘brinner’!)
Meals which require more time (main dishes can be prepared in advance, portioned and frozen):
Shepherd's pie (made with half mince/half green lentils for extra nutrients and fibre) with a sweet potato topping served with steamed green vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, spring greens).
Vegetable and bean/lentil casserole with brown rice or a baked potato.
Chicken or beef and vegetable casserole with brown rice or a baked potato.
Vegetarian or beef chilli con carne with brown rice.
Fish pie, peas and steamed vegetables.
Spaghetti Bolognese (made with half mince/half green lentils for extra nutrients and fibre) with brown rice pasta. Serve with a green salad.
Chicken, chickpea and vegetable tagine with couscous (can get GF couscous too) or brown rice or roasted sweet potato.
Tinned chopped tomatoes
Sachets of ready cooked beans, pulses, lentils (chickpeas, beans, green lentils) OR tins of ready cooked beans, pulses, lentils (NB: rinse thoroughly with cold water before using)
Tinned coconut milk
Red or Green Lentil Pasta
Brown Rice Pasta
Cooked Brown Rice sachets (most supermarkets do own brand or Uncle Bens/Merchant Gourmet)
Cooked Quinoa Sachets
Thai green curry paste
Tamari (GF) or Soy (not GF) Sauce
Salt and pepper
Spices – cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika and paprika are my favourites.