Not everyone can cook up a storm or even wants to – especially after a hard day at the office. But a home cooked meal will generally have less fat and lower sodium than that delivery meal. Here’s some real easy ideas…
It’s Sunday so you have a little more time to try something interesting that can actually enhance several meals. You’re going to make a Pesto Sauce – don’t freak out, it’s easy and not that bad for you.
Wash and rinse fresh spinach – don’t worry, I hate spinach too, it doesn’t matter trust me. Cut up enough spinach to fill an 8 oz. cup with the spinach pushed down, fitting in as much as you can. Pour the spinach into a blender. Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil, then 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt, 2 small cloves of garlic (more or less depends on your taste), and 1/4 cup of pine nuts (available in the produce section of any supermarket). Blend all the items together and slowly add more olive oil until you can see the items mixing at the bottom of the blender. Stop the blender and use a spoon to push the ingredients further down into the blender so that they continue to blend together. Blend again and add olive oil as needed. Continue until the mixture is a bright green. Pour into a plastic bowl, cover, and refrigerate. It can also be frozen and defrosted as needed.
Next up – barbeque chicken. Take about 3 or 4 pounds of cut-up chicken – it can be breasts if you like white meat, it can be a combination of legs and thighs if you prefer dark – and fill a sturdy gallon size plastic bag. Add 3/4 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce and about 1/4 cup of light soy sauce. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake it up carefully. Place the bag in a bowl – in case the bag leaks – and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Now you’re finished planning ahead. It’s Sunday and what says Sunday family meal better than a turkey meatloaf? Mix 1 pound of ground turkey with 3/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs (alternatively, you can substitute matzoh meal, salt, pepper, garlic salt, parsley, and oregano) plus 1 egg white. The key to getting an egg white without any of the much unhealthier yolk is to warm the egg in your hand before cracking it open, then use the side of a teaspoon to crack the egg in half. The entire egg contents will fit in one half an egg shell – just rock the contents from one shell to the other over the ground turkey and bread crumbs and the egg white will drop into the mixture leaving the intact egg yolk in the shell (waste not, want not: scramble up that egg yolk for your dog – it’s good for his coat). Mix together all the ingredients, then add about an eighth of a cup of BBQ sauce and a pinch of soy sauce to give your turkey loaf some meaty flavor. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with a frozen vegetable of your choice and it’s a deliciously simple meal. And you ought to have enough left over for at least one hearty meatloaf sandwich for lunch during the week.
Monday nights are the worst. You may still be hung over from the weekend or just hate your job that much. So you want something easy. Line a pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and spray with some Pam. Pour in the chicken that’s been marinating overnight and stick into a 375 degree oven for about an hour. To make sure chicken is done, take the thickest piece and cut into it toward the bone and make sure there’s no pink skin or blood.
While the chicken is cooking, take a large red-skinned potato and wash it in the sink. Boil some water and add the cut up potato. Red skinned potatoes are great to cook at home because you can eat the skin so you don’t have to use a grater.
In about 10 or 15 minutes, you should be able to push a fork through a thick piece of potato. Strain out the water. Add to the potatoes, to taste, any combination of butter, salt, pepper, and cheese. Add about 1/4 cup of milk. Mash it all together and you have yummy mashed potatoes to eat with your chicken. Add a bagged salad and Monday’s done.
Tuesday night is a great night for pesto. Boil up the pasta of your choice – surely even you know how to do that. Mix the pasta and the pesto – dinner’s ready. Add some prepared chicken or use a beef or cheese tortellini to add some protein. Wow – before you even know it, you’ve cooked three very different meals three nights in a row.
So what do you do on Wednesday? Well it is hump day – camel? No but it is a good night for leftovers and you just happen to have about half your chicken left over from Monday. I like to serve it up cold with some potato salad and a bagged green salad.
It’s Thursday night – if you are a single guy, then since your college days it’s been the unofficial beginning of your weekend. Knowing a weekend of binge drinking, pizza, and other toxins is about to begin, you’re most likely to go to the gym on Thursday so stop at the market on your way home and pick up a piece of fresh fish. That way, when it’s midnight and you’re scarfing down a pizza with your buddies, you can look back on having eaten healthy.
Friday night, Saturday night: these are your days off. I mean, who are you kidding? You’re eating out – you may be out with friends or on a date. That’s OK though. The upside of being hungover at home is you can start taking steps to prepare next week’s meals simply by thinking about your menu, what you may need to defrost, what can be prepared ahead of time…
With a little ingenuity and planning, even the worst cooks can survive cooking for one.