My food philosophy is simple: Keep it….. simple!
I don’t believe slaving away for 5 hours makes a tastier dish than something I whipped up in 30 minutes (seems Jamie Oliver is onto something with his 30-minutes meals, although he seems to fit a lot more into half an hour than I can!), especially when so many people these days are time poor. I’ve got a few tips on cooking efficiently without compromising quality (and avoiding takeaway food).
In my experience, one packet of pasta (500g) feeds 4 people (or 2 people twice!) so instead of cooking half a packet of pasta for my boyfriend and I, I’ll cook the whole packet and freeze half of it for dinner another night. When freezing a pasta dish I always try to freeze the pasta separate from the sauce; likewise for a rice dish. I find doing this makes the meal taste fresher somehow (I’m sure there’s a science behind it but I’m no scientist :).
I try to draw up a meal plan for the week and do one weekly shop. Unfortunately this means the produce isn’t as fresh by the end of the week but I combat that by making dinners requiring fresh produce on Mondays (eg. salad) and leave the tinned/frozen meals for the end of the week (eg. canned tuna and frozen diced veggie pasta bake).
If I’m cooking for 1, I’ll still make enough for 4 and then freeze the other 3 portions to take for lunch (also saves on buying lunch every day and is healthier).
Some meals freeze better than others – stews, casseroles, curries, pasta. Others don’t freeze/defrost very well – roast meat and veg (or any meal that has different ‘parts’ to it), burgers, steak and side salad, anything that has seafood in it.
I hate that feeling of racking your brain trying to come up with meal ideas. My secret is the Coles catalog! I flick through the weekly catalog to see what’s on sale and that gives me ideas for meals. Not only are you eating produce that’s in season but because it’s in season it also means you’re not paying through the nose for it. The worst thing is to open a cookbook and read a recipe for something that sounds delicious, get to the supermarket and realise you cannot get product x because it’s out of season or you can get product x but it costs 3x what it normally costs because it’s out of season.
Hope this is helpful! What are your ‘food efficiency’ tips??