As a busy individual staying alone in a big city with a tight budget, I do want to eat healthily and stay healthy. Unfortunately, I am not one to chew on kale salad or enjoy spending hours on preparing a meal. I also do not fancy eating out frequently especially when the weather is cold.
I like to have nutritious food that I can prepare quickly without much chopping or cooking, yet tasty. Hard to believe? Come and take a look! My guideline is simple, for each major meal of the day, try to have a little from each major food groups, namely grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, nut, legumes and beans, and dairy products.
For a quick and hearty breakfast, I typically microwave a bowl of quick-cook oatmeal on high for 3 minutes either with milk, coconut water, or just water. Then throw in whatever I fancy on that moment, be it cubes of chocolate, dollops of peanut butter, dried or fresh fruits, egg, cheese, or bacon; then squeeze on some honey, maple syrup, or condensed milk; follow by sprinkling of spices like cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, or fennel seeds. Voila, it is ready! With a little imagination and spirit of adventure, the combination is endless. Taken with a nice cup of coffee, I am game for the day to begin! Time taken to prepare everything? Less than ten minutes! A lot faster than cutting and juicing a whole bunch of fruits and vegetable and a lot less mess to clean up afterwards.
For lunch, a sandwich made of whole grain bread, with egg, cheese, tuna, or cured meat, top with fresh vegetable like lettuce, tomato slices, or thin slices of jicama turnip (super juicy, crunchy, delightfully sweet, my personal favorite) keep me going for hours.
For a delicious bowl of noodle or pasta, I will boil stick noodle or pasta until al dente, drained and then set aside. To save time, I tend to throw in some broccoli or cauliflower florets when the pasta is almost done and drain them dry together. In a pan, I will caramelize pineapple chunks with oil and sugar until fragrant and slightly browned, then mixed in a can of mackerel in tomato source, breaking up the meat chunk as I stir. Salt, pepper and other seasoning as needed. When fully mixed and ready, I serve them over the slightly cooled pasta or noodle, topped with the florets. Tasty and nutritious!
If I craved for a soupy bowl of pasta but really short of time, I will simply put all the ingredients – suitable amount of oil, garlic, onions, carrot, pepper, dried Asian mushroom, dried scallop, meat or poultry of choice, and the pasta straight into a big pot, add stock or just water, bring to a boil, season as needed and then simmer for an hour or so until all the ingredients are well cooked and flavor fully blended. If you have a crock pot, you can throw all the ingredients into the pot the night before or before you leave for works. Nourishing, comforting, and super easy to prepare. For variety, grains(barley, wheat, buckwheat, etc) and beans can take the place of pasta or stick noodle very well.
I like to incorporate food of different colors into my food plan to diversify the nutrient intakes. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are nutritious yet very easy to prepare as a meal. I can bake them as it is, or wrap them in wet paper and microwave until soft and eat with yogurt or other dips. I can also turn them easily into a thick soup with a simple hand blender and enjoy with crusty wholegrain bread or biscuit. Pan-seared or baked salmon served with lemon slices is quick and easy. There are many simple and tasty recipes for salmon available on the web that I used often. Then the very versatile eggs- omelet, fried, hard or soft boiled, scrambled, serve with beans, bread, or good on its own.
For a quick refreshing snack, do you know plain yogurt goes very well with turmeric powder?
For dinner, I tend to just have salads with crunching vegetables or fruits with a squeeze or two of lemon/lime juice, toss with olive oil, honey and other herbs and seasoning as needed. Cucumber, tomatoes, apple, pear, bell pepper, jicama, water chestnut, broccoli or cauliflower floret, celery are all my favorite choices. I may add in hard tofu cubes, sliced hard boiled egg, nuts, tuna flakes, or avocado for extra richness. A blend of mustard, buttermilk, vinegar, mayonnaise, dill, salt, honey, garlic powder, and chili flakes made a richer dressing if I do wish so. Taken with a glass of wine, it is a perfect way to end a busy day.
Eating clean and well does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Just a little forethought initially and then the creativity in meal preparing will eventually become second nature. I figure I have saved quite a bit of money and time over the years cooking for myself and channel the extra cash for better use.