I've been working from home since the start of the pandemic and somehow, working from home has made me work more. It’s as if taking traffic out of the equation has given people license to schedule back-to-back-to-back meetings all day long. And so, finding time to cook has been quite the challenge.
To begin with, I’m not the most enthusiastic cook; occasionally I’ll really put in an effort, but for the most part, I’d rather do the eating than the cooking. It’s so much more convenient to just place an order using a food delivery service, but because I want to control what goes on my plate whenever I can, I’ve found some tricks to help me cook more at home:
1. Plan ahead.
Growing up I remember my mom had a sheet of paper stuck on the ref listing down all the meals for the week, from breakfast to dinner. I’m not very good with meal planning like that, so by “planning ahead”, I mean doing a quick scan of the ref to see what ingredients are available, taking note of what I should be defrosting by when, and whether I need to get any additional stuff from the grocery to complete the dishes I want to prepare.
2. Have some go-to dishes you can cook from scratch in 30 mins or less
My mornings tend to be quite busy, so if there aren’t any leftovers I can reheat for lunch, I have a bunch of easy recipes that I can prep quickly. My go to’s include:
Pan-fried Korean mackerel with buttered shirataki rice and boiled broccoli. Simple but divine.
Salmon with a side of asparagus or French beans
Cauli mac and cheese. If I’ve cleaned and boiled some florets ahead of time then it’s just a matter of combining my cheeses, heavy cream and seasonings and topping it with some crunchy bacon, if available. Yum!
Egg salad or avocado on keto toast. I like serving it with a side of greens tossed in a simple vinaigrette.
Stir-fried everything: beef and bok choy, diced chicken with cauliflower egg fried rice, etc.
3. Prep during breaks.
When I find that I have a bit of free time in the morning, I’ll start bringing out the things I need and chopping garlic and onions, or washing vegetables, trimming French beans, dicing peppers, boiling eggs, grating cheese… just little things that you can do and get out of the way.
4. Bake and forget.
I love being able to just put veggies into a pan, drizzling olive oil, adding salt and pepper, setting the temp and timer and then leaving it be. So many healthy one-pan dishes to be made! Bonus – less pots and pans to wash after! Some of my faves include:
Roasted Chicken and Veggies (broccoli, cauli, potatoes, carrots, beets and whole heads of garlic work well here)
Baked feta cheese and cherry tomato pasta (using shirataki noodles).
5. Have some good ready-made stuff handy.
Always have a bag of ready-to-eat greens available so it's easy to have vegetables at any meal.
Prepared sauces like salad dressings, pesto or homemade sauces from your favorite local artisans can really elevate your dishes. Remember to read labels so you know they’re free of undesirable ingredients such as starches, added sugars, canola or corn oil, and preservatives.
Stock up on ingredients that you can use to liven up your salads – like feta or goat cheese, artichokes and capers, dates, dried cranberries and nuts like sliced almonds or pecans.