Nutritious Mid-Week Meals in a Hurry - Top Tips
Making delicious meals during the week needn't take hours of your precious spare time. With a few tips, home cooked food can be simple and easy to make and take a lot less time than you might expect. Follow our top tips and recipe hacks for good food, fast.April 2015
Home cooking expert Amy Jones from blog She Cooks She Eats: “While I sometimes want the luxury of being served delicious food in a restaurant, there is nothing quite like the pride of knowing that the meal your loved ones are eating and making yummy noises over is something that you made in your very own kitchen.”
Preparing fast homemade meals is so much easier when you have a reliable oven and hob to work with. Find the right cooker for you, whether it's gas or electric, freestanding or built in, here
Our Top Quick Dinner Recipe Hacks
1. Save time - cheat
Home cooking no longer means slaving over a hot stove for hours. Store cupboard favourites like pasta puttanesca can be made in no time at all. Simply fry onion, garlic and anchovies for a few minutes, chuck in tinned tomatoes, a good shake of salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes. During this time cook the spaghetti, once al dente drain, mix with the sauce and top with parsley. Yum!
2. Invest in your equipment
Influential food writer Dannii Martin from health blog Hungry Healthy Happy's top tip:
“Make sure you have good kitchen equipment. Good knives will save you time when chopping and even better, a food processor will take all of the time and effort out of chopping if you have a few attachments for it.”
3. Be creative with flavours
Make fresh herbs last longer by making 'herb cubes'. Choose the herbs you want to use, chop them up, put them into ice cube trays and cover with oil or melted butter. Cover and freeze overnight before distributing them into freezer bags to make sure you'll always have herbs to hand.
4. Make friends with your microwave
Don't wait two hours for a potato to bake. Pop it in the microwave for ten minutes and then transfer it to the oven for a couple of minutes to get that all-important crispy skin. For an even quicker result consider buying frozen baked potatoes. Shop for microwaves here
5. Think outside the box
Get creative with every day foods. Cheesy crispy roll
ups are the perfect accompaniment to tomato soup:
Take a few slices of bread, cut the crusts off, put cheese over each slice, roll up and fry for a few minutes on each side Crispy deliciousness.
6. Plan ahead
If you're expecting a day to be busy then pop on the slow cooker, put all the ingredients in first thing then simply set the right temperature and tea will be cooked by the time you get home. Find our slow cookers here
7. Think of new ways to use leftovers
Amy Jones from She Cooks She Eats has some vital tips for using up leftovers:
“When I have leftover stale bread, there's lots of ways to revive it. Sometimes I'll make a simple garlic butter by mixing minced garlic and salted butter, then spread this over the bread and bake to make garlic bread. I always think stale bread is great in bread and butter puddings as it soaks up more custard. If you have a food processor then whizz the bread up and use the crumbs in meatballs to soak up all the meat juices.”
8. Try frozen pastry
Save time by using ready-made pastry for recipes such as beef wellington and pie dishes. Puff pastry pizza is a crowd pleaser that takes no time to throw together.
Our Top Freezer Tips
When it comes to easy mid-week meals, your freezer is your friend. You can freeze most leftovers for future use in other dishes and foods such as stews and soups can be cooked ahead of time and frozen for simple dinners in a hurry. Here are our top tips for freezing homemade food:
1. Label - Before you put anything in the freezer, first put a label on it stating what the food is, with the date it was made and the date it needs to be used by.
2. Portion Size - Especially relevant for soups and sauces; instead of freezing in one bulk put it into portion sizes and then freeze. The best way to do this is to use freezer bags, get them as flat as you can so they will save space and defrost quickly.
3. List - Keep a list of what's in your freezer and tick things off as you use them. You won't have to keep looking in the freezer and will be able to plan meals around what is on your freezer list.
Prefer a freestanding freezer or chest freezer?
Find the full range here
For a healthy alternative Dannii Martin from Hungry Healthy Happy suggests making a smoothie with your leftovers: “If we have leftover vegetables, we never throw them. I will always add them to a curry to bulk it out or even blend them in to a smoothie (don't knock it until you try it).”