Everyone is so busy these days that a lot of the time people just don’t want to cook because they can’t fit it in to their packed schedules. You can see why convenience foods are so popular.
But what if I told you that cooking your own food can be just as fast as grabbing something on the way home from work?
Hopefully you’d be tempted to read on.
I know a lot of people are pretty stressed out so food becomes a huge hassle because it’s always a last minute decision that takes so much time. I never know what to eat on these kind of nights so it takes twice as long to get any food. Menu planning is definitely the way to go, but I won’t hash that out there today (read this and this and subscribe to get emails from me and you can get a free ebook all about menu planning).
The best trick to make convenience foods at home is to make sure your fridge and freezer are properly stocked with the right foods. And I don’t just mean stocked, I also mean portioned out so you can easily grab, defrost, reheat or eat and don’t need to wait hours for the pleasure of a home cooked meal. Follow these simple fridge and freezer tips so you won’t waste so much time on dinner each night.
Basic stock items for the fridge
- Eggs: for quick meals and to bind other ingredients together.
- Butter: for toast and to make cakes.
- Jar of pesto: for flavouring pasta, putting over pizza, making into dressings and marinades, adding to any tomato based meals and soups.
- Block of cheese: for pizza, toasted sandwiches, cheese platters, adding to salads.
- Jar of mustard: for dressings, marinades and making your own mayonnaise.
- Milk: for drinks and smoothies, making cakes and muffins.
- Tub of Greek yoghurt: to make dressings, marinades, sauces, adding to meals instead of cream, for eating with muesli and fruit, adding to spicy dishes or to eat as raita with grated cucumber mixed through.
- Vegetables: for salads, grilled and roasted vegetables, for adding to casseroles and curries or stir fries.
Basic stock items for the freezer
- Chicken, beef, lamb, etc: Portion the meat out into individual or double servings and put into freezer bags, labelled with what they are.
- White fish and salmon: also portioned out into individual or double servings. Fish is much quicker cooking on a busy weeknight so is worth having. Read this post for what to do with fish.
- Prawns: buy a bag of frozen prawns so you can grab a handful for adding to dishes like risotto, fried rice, curries, stir fries or just grilled by themselves.
- Frozen vegetables: either by the vegetables mixed packets or just the ones you like, such as a bag each of green beans and broccoli. Use these in meals where you would fresh vegetables, but defrost them by running hot water over them first.
- Pastry: a packet of puff pastry is handy to help use up leftovers. Fold the leftovers in small squares of pastry for your own version of samosas and empanadas or a whole sheet to make a pie.
- One convenience meal: I always have one convenience meal in the freezer for unexpected situations. It might be in the freezer for 3 months until I use it, but it’s there for emergencies like getting home starving at midnight or unexpectedly having guests. My meal of choice is spinach and cheese triangles because I can put them out if guests come for a snack or entree or I can eat them as a light dinner.
By having these basic items in your fridge and freezer you should now have the beginnings of a healthy yet quick meal or actually have the entire meal ready to go.
This list is not exhaustive. There will be things you love to eat that I haven’t mentioned here, but that doesn’t stop you from keeping them stocked in your fridge and freezer. Whatever you do, just make sure you have ingredients on hand that you can use in a number of ways, and that you have them portioned out if they’re in larger quantities – it’ll help you save time in the end.
Hopefully today’s post has helped you to think about how you stock your fridge and freezer. In the next post we’ll talk about what you should stock in your pantry.
Do you agree with the ingredients I’ve suggested here? What else would you add to your list? Leave a comment below or tell me on Twitter via @SpicedAnecdotes. And if you liked what you read today sign up to my email subscription so you won’t miss all the great advice coming in future.