Young people like students or young professionals must balance their need for a healthy diet with their hectic schedule, and often they sacrifice their desire for good home-cooked food in favour of unhealthy bites they can eat on the go. There is a myth out there that to make healthy food at home you need to slave for hours over the stove, when that is just not the case. Some of the quickest home-cooked foods are also the healthiest, and the best part is that you don’t need to be a master-chef to whip up a tasty meal for yourself at home.
Here are 5 top ideas and tips on how to make quick and easy food for young people on the go, making sure you don’t need to sacrifice either your time or your health to eat well.
1. Frozen vegetables are your friend
Many look down on the humble frozen vegetable, but studies actually show that many frozen vegetables are actually more nutritious than their ‘fresh’ counterparts. Fresh produce in a supermarket has often been in transit around the world and then sat on a supermarket shelf for up to 14 days before you actually buy it, meaning many of the nutrients are lost. Because frozen vegetables are usually frozen within 1-2 days of being picked, they retain most of the vitamins and minerals that make them so nutritious.
Reviving frozen veg is usually as quick as dropping them in a pan of boiling water or steaming them in the microwave, so they are quick to eat and full of goodness. Instead of adding a side of microwave fries to your plate, why not add some carrots or broccoli instead?
2. Batch freeze and defrost
The microwave has a pretty bad reputation as the enabler of unhealthy eating, but in fact your microwave can be used for the forces of good or evil. One great way to make use of your microwave is to make large batches of food when you have time on your hands, freeze into individual bags and then defrost them in the microwave when you want to eat. So many foods from soup to chilli con carne to pasta sauce can be frozen and then microwaved back to goodness in minutes, meaning that investing a little time earlier in the week can save you tons of time later on.
3. Stir-fry your way to good health
Vegetable stir-frys are a great way of cooking up tasty food in a snap, because they take minutes to make and are still bursting full of flavour. Making them healthy is all about the ingredients you choose. For example it is best to use olive oil in your stir-fry because while olive oil isn’t the best frying oil, it is a lot healthier than other kinds of oil because it is made up of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat.
For a quick thai-inspired vegetable stir fry, throw some noodles in a wok along with some peppers, green chillies, garlic and assorted other vegetables – topped off with a tablespoon each of fish sauce and soy sauce. It will be tangy and hot, and all cooked in under 5 minutes.
4. Pasta with imagination
Pasta is often the go-to food for unsure cooks and those in a hurry, but just because pasta is a simple food does not mean it has to be completely unimaginative. Avoid jars of sauces in particular because they are often filled with harmful additives and even worse, they just don’t taste great. Use tip 2 to your advantage and use a spare 30 minutes at the weekend to your advantage by making your own pasta sauce (made up of as many vegetables as possible), freezing it and then defrosting it in the microwave.
Many supermarkets also now have fresh pasta ranges like fresh tortellini which can be dropped in boiling water and be ready to eat in 2-5 minutes, saving you from even bothering to heat up a sauce.
5. Slow bake for a quick eat
To eat a food quickly does not necessarily mean it needs to be cooked quickly: it is easy to throw a slow-bake like lasagne or pot roast into the oven on a low-light, and while you go about your business it will cook and simmer slowly to perfection. By the time you return, it will be ready to eat. Easy!
This is a guest post by Lindsey Mcmahon, a part-time guest blogger and a full time health enthusiast. She currently works for Nigella, the number one choice for cookery books on the web.