Realistically, to create a delicious and "good for you" meal in the time it takes to get a take away delivered is possible. Of course, nothing can beat being organised and having the ingredients on hand. That is where meal planning is so valuable and such a fabulous time saving resource. These are meals that can be made in minutes from one mum to another.
Dinner option No 1.
Roasts are very easy. No one ever complains when I do a roast mid week. Usually it is our Sunday evening treat where the in laws come over and we share a meal together. The banter between all of us is priceless. Mid week, sometimes it gets to the point where I have run out of cold meats to pack in lunches a roast is an ideal way I can have plenty of left overs for lunch boxes the next day. To save time, I will butterfly chickens by removing the back bone, flatten and seasoning with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano with a dollops of coconut oil around the pan. I will scrub my organic potatoes and parboil them (if I have time) and then throw them in the pan. The juices from the chicken make the potatoes heavenly.
This gives me at least an hour free to either help with homework, play a bit of soccer, put the washing out or get some veggies cut ready to steam or prepare a green salad. Depending on how many of us, I will do two organic chickens to have plenty of left overs. The carcasses I will put into the slow cooker with some chicken wings to make a bone broth. A wonderfully healing broth perfect for any recipe requiring stock.
Dinner option No 2
Tray Bakes are amazing. Throw it all in a pan, season, add tomatoes, anchovies, lemons, garlic, place bacon strips over the top and a drizzle of olive oil and in 40 minutes, wow the aromas from this dish are mouth watering as well as tasting delicious . This is especially good with chicken breast, but salmon also lends itself to a successful tray bake.
Serve with a quick colourful salad and you have a meal in minutes.
Dinner option No 3
Butterflied Lamb. I will place this on the BBQ or oven, on a tray. I prefer a tray on the BBQ as the flames will blacken the outside of the lamb in seconds. I will season, crush garlic, rosemary rubbed into the skin with olive oil and 40 minutes later depending on how you like the lamb cooked, I have a wonderful meal waiting. In summer I will serve with a colourful salad, or steamed vegetables in winter. Once again, if I have time I will roast some potatoes in the pan as well.
Dinner option No 4
I have mastered a few curry recipes, that I make from scratch that take me 30 minutes maximum to cook. One of these favourites is Butter Chicken. Once you have the spices on hand then the sauce takes minutes. Add the diced chicken and let it cook while you start the rice and get the veggies on. For a vegetarian option add pulses and vegetables to the sauce. Absorption method rice is also very quick and simple. For 5 people I place 2 cups of rinsed basmati rice in a pan. If it is brown rice I will add 4 cups of water, if it is white rice then I will add 3 cups of water.
Let the rice come to a rolling boil. Turn off and forget. Do not lift lid as all that hot air will escape and the rice will not cook through. So easy and mindless.
Serve with lots of colourful steamed vegetables.
Dinner option No 5
Cook more than you need. For instance when roasting vegetables, roast extra pumpkin and beetroot so that you can add to salads during the week. Blanched beans are also delicious in salads with caramelised onions in balsamic vinegar.
Adding seeds, pulses and cheeses such as grilled halloumi or feta to salads bulks them up and are satisfying with the roasted vegetables and blanched beans.
For fail proof ideas, be organised. Have some idea of what you are going to eat each night, allowing it to fit around your schedule.
Shopping can be a tireless, thankless task at the time, but when you are scouring online shopping lists, going to your fourth store in an effort to buy local, sustainable and organic items, then it will be worth it.
Your family and your tummy will be thanking you for all that extra effort you have made.