My recent post on healthy food on a budget sparked one of my regular readers to write me with a question: What about us lazy cooks?
Truth be told, I’m a lazy cook, too, most of the time. Cooking is just not one of my favorite activities.
For everyday meals, I take short cuts, I take advantage of convenience foods and I cook for several days at a time when I get myself motivated to cook.
My husband is not a cook, so most of the cooking is left to me. He’s the cleanup guy, which is good, since I dislike cleaning up even more than cooking.
First of all, we eat simple meals. It’s usually just a salad, a simple meat, fish or vegetarian dish, veggies and we’re done. I like casseroles, because I can combine lots of things in different ways.
I also make at least enough for two meals every time I cook since we are often out for evening meetings and it’s easy to heat things up quickly.
It’s also easy to freeze leftover casseroles and just pull them out of the freezer in the morning when I know dinner will be late.
There is nothing at all wrong with pre-packaged salads. I always opt for organic when they are available. What’s simpler than tossing a handful of greens into a bowl, chopping a tomato and a cuke and you’re done? If I want a veggie-heavy salad, I have one of those handy dandy chopper thingies (not a vegematic, but something like that). It can chop a whole slew of veggies or fruits pretty and uniformly in a minute or two.
One of our favorite meals is taco salad—the above salad with a little added shredded chicken or beef or grated cheese, whatever’s left over, maybe some green pepper and avocado, served with salsa and tortillas. It’s a great healthy meal and an easy way to get lots of veggies into veggie-resistant family members.
Main dishes? My go-to for a lazy cook is my Instant Pot. When I cook rice in it, I cook enough for at least two days and I use it in two different dishes. Cooking brown rice takes about 15 minutes on high pressure and very little activity on my part. Add a grilled chicken breast or thigh and some quick-steamed broccoli and you’re done.
Leftover rice works great with a little chicken stock, some fresh or frozen veggies and a handful of shrimp or chicken. Pour it all in a casserole dish and heat for 30 minutes or so.
My Instant Pot is also great for those slightly more complicated dishes I make from time to time—a casserole with burger browned on the sauté setting with a bit of garlic and onion, a handful of uncooked pasta, a can of tomatoes. All it takes is 15 minutes on pressure cook.
I make lots of soup in the winter and we generally eat that for three or four days. The Instant Pot is great because you can simply throw in a bunch of veggies, a little meat or even unsoaked dry beans and let them cook themselves. It almost always turns out great—and on the few occasions when it has been less than delicious, it’s always been tolerable.
We don’t eat stuff out of boxes or pre-prepped foods and I mainly shop the fresh foods in the outer aisles of the supermarket.
None of this is complicated, I promise. I rarely spend more than 20 minutes prepping dinner and we are pretty healthy eaters. Welcome to the ranks of lazy healthy cooks.
NOTE to my readers: By the way, just so you now, I am not a paid endorser or any products. I mention the things I like because I really like them. I am also a bargain watcher and I have to let you know that Walmart will have Instant Pots on Black Friday for $49. That is absolutely a steal. Go for it, but please leave one for me. I want it for a gift!