No Need For Ready Meals

| January 13, 2012

From the Afrikan Goddess Kitchen (November 10, 2011)

It’s easy to be seduced into thoughts of quick and easy dinners, as promised by the manufacturers of ready meals. But nothing beats a home-cooked meal and, no matter how fancy the packaging, or how persuasive the advertising, a dinner that is cooked in the microwave and scooped out of a plastic container is never going to taste as nice as one that is prepared from scratch with love.

The problem is that people (and women in particular) are so busy multi-tasking their lives that it’s difficult to fit everything into the 24 hours of each day. Whether you work, or look after your children, the thought of cooking dinner after a busy day is sometimes too exhausting to even contemplate. It’s no great surprise that many people reach for the ready meal shelves or the freezer compartment to solve dinner problems. But, with just a little forward planning and a bit of organisational genius, you can cook dinner from scratch in little more time than it takes to heat up and serve a ready meal. Here are a few tips to help you create quick and easy meals with the minimum of fuss:

Write a meal plan

A weekly meal plan takes away the daily question of ‘what shall we have for dinner?’ If you know in advance what you’re going to cook that evening you can make sure you have all the ingredients ready. A meal plan is also a really good way to make sure you eat a good variety of meals and don’t end up having red meat or pasta every day. You can see at a glance what you’re going to be eating for the week and you can plan your shopping a day or two in advance so there’s no last minute dash to the shops to buy ingredients for a hurried meal. Best of all, a meal plan will save you money – you only need to buy the ingredients and the food that you’re actually going to cook and eat. Shopping without a meal plan is as useful as trying to guess the snow reports and you’ll end up throwing away food that doesn’t get eaten, or having to go shopping again once you’ve decided what you’re going to cook.

Prepare a shopping list

Once you’ve done your meal plan, you can make a comprehensive shopping list. Whether you use the supermarket for all your shopping, or you try and use local butchers and greengrocers as well, you can work out a weekly or daily shopping list that will ensure you get the freshest ingredients and the minimum amount of food is wasted.

Cook in batches

A good way to save time and make the most of your home cooking is to double the amounts you cook. So, if you’re making a stew, double up on the ingredients then freeze one batch. That way, you’ve always got a delicious home-cooked meal in the freezer for those days when time is running out or you simply don’t have the energy to cook from scratch.

Weekday favorites

Most people don’t have as much time to devote to cooking during the week so it’s a good idea to stick to tried and tested dishes then. It takes longer to follow a new recipe than it does to cook from your memory so save the new ideas and complicated recipes for the weekend when you have more time to relax and enjoy the cooking process. Work out which days you’re most pressed for time and keep these meals super simple. Baked potatoes, quick pasta dishes and simply grilled chicken or fish are ideal when dinner literally has to be ready in minutes, or you can’t spend ages fussing around in the kitchen. Alternatively, you can get all your prep done earlier in the day and just pop the food in the oven to cook while you get on with other jobs.

Lovely leftovers

Leftovers can be great for preparing a quick meal – cooked meat, cold pies, mash and soup are some of the foods that can be reheated or revamped to create a delicious and speedy supper the following day.

So you see, there’s no need to reach for the ready meals – with a bit of imagination and organization you can have home-cooked dinners every day of the week.

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AFRIKAN GODDESS MAGAZINE is a subsidiary of Afrikan Goddess Media, LLC. Our content is designed with the educated, professional, classy, charming and sassy African woman in mind. We encourage women to express their creativity and ideas through writing, and also serve as a platform for meaningful discussions and exchange of ideas.

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