So the week coming up happens to be a particularly busy one. You have a million and one things to do, and cooking seems like it might be something that gets put on the back burner for a few days, so to speak. From time to time this happens to all of us, and has the unfortunate ramifications of forcing you to either cancel some of the plans you had for your busy week ahead, or reach into that drawer full of takeaway pamphlets, and spend an excessive amount of money on some less than desirable unhealthy dinners. To help keep you away from the fast-food outlets, while also keeping your prep time to a minimum, here are 5 recipes that can be made ahead of time, in under 5 minutes.
Pan-seared salmon & tomatoes
Pan-seared salmon and tomatoes really couldn’t be easier to make, or tastier! All you need for this is a salmon fillet, some olive oil, half a cup of baby tomatoes and 1.5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Simply slice your tomatoes in half, and warm over a medium heat until they become slightly soft. Take your salmon and season it as you wish (salt and pepper is an excellent basic option, but if you have some chilli flakes, that works too). Sear your fillet skin-side down until the flesh becomes slightly opaque, then flip it over and finish off to your desired taste. Take your vinegar and add it to the still-hot pan, allowing all the juices to mix together before pouring it over the salmon which should now be sitting on a bed of softly cooked tomatoes. Simply delicious!
Kickin’ macaroni and cheese
Mac ‘n’ cheese has been a staple for many a busy household over the years, but adding a little ‘kick’ to this tried and tested recipe can help breath some new life into it. For this one, you will need 50g of macaroni per person, 120ml of water, 3 tablespoons of milk, and around 25g of cheese, a few pinches of dried chilli flakes, and a side salad of your choice. Mix the macaroni, water and a pinch of salt, in a microwavable bowl (obviously, increase the ingredients by how many people you wish to serve), and heat in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the milk and cheese along with a pinch of pepper and some chilli flakes and pop it back in for another 30 seconds to a minute. Once finished, give the bowl a stir, and pour into one of your meal prep compartments with a chopped salad of your choice in the other. It really doesn’t get much quicker than spicy mac ’n’ cheese!
Tomato and spinach omelette
A well-loved recipe that has been part of meal-time across the globe, the humble omelette has graced many a plate from France and Italy, to Japan and Thailand. One of the main reasons it is so loved, is the sheer speed at which you can rustle one up! For this tasty tomato and spinach version, you will need 6 cherry tomatoes, a handful of spinach, 2 eggs, a tablespoon of coconut milk, half a clove of crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon of spring onion, a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. Whisk your eggs and coconut milk in a bowl, and add enough salt and pepper for personal preference. Heat your olive oil in a pan, and pour the contents of the bowl in once the pan is hot. Lift the corners of the mixture to allow the uncooked liquid to touch the bottom of the pan, and add the tomatoes and spinach once the mixture is roughly halfway to being cooked. Fold the omelette in half, and serve with the freshly chopped spring onions. Viola! A tasty, healthy meal in under 5 minutes.
Steak strips and rocket salad
Fancy something a little special, but only have a few minutes to cook? Then why not try a steak and rocket salad? When it comes to cooking your steak, cut it into slivers first. This will speed up the cooking process to literally a few minutes, so keep an eye on your steak while it is in the pan and make sure you don’t overcook it. Once you have finished, place your steak into a meal prep compartment, with the other proving a home for the chopped rocket and a few parmesan shavings. If you are using a 3 compartment container, you can use the spare compartment to house a small sealed pot of olive oil and lemon juice (2 parts to 1 part) as the perfect dressing for the salad when you are ready to eat. It really doesn’t get much better than perfectly cooked steak strips, and a zesty rocket salad! Simple, but effective.
Spicy chickpea lettuce wraps
A nice light recipe for lunch now, and it doesn’t come much healthier than chickpea lettuce wraps! For this, you will need 1 can of chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of plain greek yoghurt, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, some raisins, chopped walnuts, celery, green onions, curry powder, and of course some large lettuce leaves. Mash half of your chickpeas in a bowl and add the other half of chickpeas whole. In another bowl mix the sauce consisting of mayonnaise, greek yoghurt, lemon juice, curry powder and a pinch of salt. Mix the two bowls together and add in the raisins, chopped walnuts and celery. Ideally you will now leave the mixture for half an hour in the fridge to marinade, but if time is of the essence you can disregard this. Then simply spoon them into the lettuce leaves, fold them over and fasten them with a cocktail stick. If however you are planning to eat them a few days down the line, you can always leave them in separate meal prep compartments and finalize them when you are sitting down to eat. Quick, healthy, and a delight to eat!
So there you have it, meal prepping at its absolute quickest! While meal prepping is always a time-saving pursuit, sometimes it really does have to be lighting fast, or you run the risk of simply ordering a takeaway to ease your burden. When you feel yourself considering that option, realise that there are options available that are ready to eat (or store) in the blink of an eye! Put the takeaway app down, and move away from the phone...