Posted on November 26, 2016
Please tell me how the f#@% are we, in this day and age, able to make delicious, healthy, balanced meals let along doing it with less time and money?! I have large constraints on my time. I have allergies. I have a hungry man to feed. I am trying to be healthy and get my non-existent bikini body. I am trying to save money to go overseas and somehow put enough away to pay of the student loan and one day buy a house in Auckland. I basically want to be Nadia Lim. Or have her food bags. Is it possible to make your own equivalent of the My Food Bag?
Don’t get me wrong. For someone that loves to cook, going home and preparing a meal my way to zone out and way to unwind from the day. But, as the pressure on my time means dinners are getting later and I’m constantly trying to find a way to do it quickly, and not always proud of the result.
Because I want to cut down time, the temptation to eat out is great. Eating out is generally not ideal for your waistline or your wallet. You want to cook at home because its healthy, and less expensive, but the time it takes to decide what to make, to go shopping, prepare dinner and eat it, is pushing the boat out to 9 pm. And also food out tastes and looks real good.
Guess what, I can whip up steak and fries in a jiffy! But actually making a delicious, healthy, balanced meal, can take a bit longer. Then when I go home, and make that meal, if there is no left overs that don’t need reheating – then I am without lunch. The next day I eat toast on the run and buy lunch out. Then I fall into temptation of grabbing a cheese sandwich instead of salad. Fine, tasty and all, but I’m suddenly hungry at 3 pm and then by the time you know it I’m at a bar with a friend drinking and eating fries like the end is near. Then I go home and dinner is not even on the cards. Fall into that cycle mid week and it is a slippery slope.
Then you have all the social media (Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc), TV and celebrity chefs that make it look is so ‘easy’. Guess what Jamie Oliver, your 15 minute meals DO NOT TAKE 15 MINUTES. In this day and age, the pressure to make a balanced, healthy, fresh, delicious meal is now also followed by gluten free, organic, ibs friendly, possibly vegetarian, low sugar, low fat, low-carb restraints.
This almost adds to the pressure I think where I feel like I have to make something amazing like everyday. Sometimes you feel like you are constantly competing with both your own expectations and the silent expectations of those you are feeding. One night family gets salmon, with grilled asparagus and potato gratin, which makes macaroni cheese look a bit LAME. Then one night the steak is overcooked, it’s like an epic FAIL.
So, how the bleep do you make a delicious, healthy, balanced meal with less and time and money? Thus leads my experiment. I am going to share with you my meal plan for the week. The goal is to see if the above is even possible. I’m going to rate the recipes I try for 1) Flavour 2) Health & Balance 3) Time and 4) Cost, overall possible score of 20. I’ll update with photos and scores in one weeks time.
GF toast with P-butter
Chia seed pudding with fruit
Chicken Ceasar Salad
Beetroot & Halloumi Salad
Buckwheat Buddah Bowl with Avocado, Tomatoe and Spinach
1) Creamy French Lentils with Mushroom & Kale
2) 20-Minute Moo Shoo Pork Tacos
3) Courgette Pasta with smoked salmon
4) Steamed Fish & Pak Choy Parcels
5) Quinoa & Lentil (or Chicken) Red Curry
6) Cauliflower Gratin
1) French lentils, coconut milk, mushrooms, garlic (thyme and kale from my garden)
2) Pork, tortilla, coleslaw, shiitake mushroom, had to buy hoisen and oyster sauces so could have used a different marinade.
3) Smoked salmon, courgettes, rocket, avocado – or make a cheaper version with basil pesto, olives, cherry tomatoes
4) Fish, Pak choy, lime, chilli
5) Quinoa Blend, Chicken, Coconut oil, Capsicum, corriander
6) Brocoflower (from my garden), just need flaked almonds
Before I embark on this journey, let me first just have a brunch of French toast, bacon, banana and maple syrup… after all life is all about balance.
Full disclosure: By healthy I don’t mean low fat, fat is good for you. Where it says lentils you can always use meat, but recent research shows that animal fats raise cholesterol and people that live longer generally have meat free or low meat diets. I love vegetable based cooking but my other half needs some meat. Where it says GF that doesn’t mean better. I am personally gluten free but fully aware that GF foods have higher fat and more soy. Better carbohydrates are generally those that are not processed, so grains like buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, amaranth are healthier than rice or pasta because of they are easier to digest and have a lower GI (keep you fuller longer). Everyone has their own interpretation of delicious, healthy, balanced – this is mine.