Easy and balanced recipes for the work week?

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by stargazer, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. stargazer


    Likes Received:
    At home cook
    I've been trying to eat less processed foods and cook for myself more often, but I have trouble finding quick/easy recipes that taste good, are healthy, and are affordable.  I really love to cook now and then, but during the week I'm so busy I don't have much time to spend on cooking.  For a while I was basically buying 5 chicken breasts at the start of the week and having one with a different marinade nightly, but I got sick of chicken fast and only threw in vegetables occasionally.  

    So does anyone have any suggestions of some quick, cheap, and balanced recipes that I can make?  I'd like some that have 5-10min prep time tops, and I prefer to bake things since there isn't as much cleanup involved (I usually bake on tin foil so I can re-use the pan).

    Thanks for the advice, I look forward to hearing your suggestions. 
  2. teamfat


    Likes Received:
    I Just Like Food
    Grilled ham and cheese sandwich

    Pasta alfredo, just pasta, butter and parm.  I often serve with some sliced tomato with a splash of balsamic on them.

    Fish is quick to prepare and bake in the oven.

    Stir fry can be cheap, but usually a fair bit of prep involved.

    A head of red leaf lettuce, a bell pepper and a carrot can provide salads for several days.  On the weekend whip up a nice dressing, it should keep for days. 

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  3. siduri


    Likes Received:
    At home cook
    You need to have a balanced menu - easiest to do if you think of colors, which may not be always perfectly aligned with the balance, but it's a good rule of thumb. 

    Green has to be a large part of the meal, vegetables of all kinds - and purple, red, orange, and yellow.  They usually contain much of the same things as green. 

    White is usually starches - bread, pasta, rice, potatoes - and that's also important

    brown is usually meat, but meat can be replaced with grain/legume combinations (pasta and beans, rice and lentils, etc) or cheese or eggs

    I come home at around 8:30 most nights, rarely earlier than 6:30, and am tired and hungry and make a balanced meal with about ten minutes work, rarely more.  Sometimes it has to cook and i use that time to do email etc. 

    Chicken breast is sooo depressing.  And not the cheapest part of the chicken either. 

    Take a large, wide, low-sided pan. and line with parchment paper.

      Get some chicken THIGHS, the tastiest and meatiest part.  toss with:

    crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, a tsp of honey, a little soy, a little ginger powder, salt, pepper,


    garlic, thyme or origano (couple of pinches), lots of black pepper, ground coriander seeds (just crush them on your cutting board with a hard object like roll a jar over them), salt and a little oil


    brown sugar, paprika, ginger, garlic, salt  

    turn on oven to the highest it will go.  Put a shelf at the bottom of the oven, lowest place you can put it

    Spread the chicken around on the baking sheet (the one that comes with the oven is usually good for this if the sides aren;t too high and prevent browning) and cut some potatoes up into long wedges, the thinner they are the quicker they cook and salt and pepper them. 

    Put in the oven and bake at high heat.  Usually half hour will do it. If you're in a hurry (and i always am) you chould cut the chicken thighs in half, lenghthwise, parallel to the bone, so one part has the bone and the other doesn't.  Just don;t over cook, they should come out nice and crusty outside and juicy inside.  the potatoes and chicken should be turned when one side browns. 

    These are great left over too, i always make double on days i get hoime earlier, and then eat two days in a row. 

    Vegetables: You can put bell peppers in the tray to cook in wedges with the potatoes and chicken.  Other veg can be put in there, like eggplant chunks, or halves (cut side down) or zucchine (but beware, if they release liquid the chicken will boil and not be very good, so cut crosswise or leave whole so they don;t leak much), carrots, belgian endive

    Make a roast pork or chicken or turkey thigh on sunday and eat from it during the week.  Make a large pot of  greens, like

    swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, broccoli rabe, etc, and then keep in fridge.  Take a frying pan, put some oil, like 1/8 inch on the pan, and some crushed garlic, red pepper flakes or black pepper, and just sweat them a little and then add the greens, and heat up in the flavored oil. 

    Or, make pork chops in the pan, high heat, and then toss cooked broccoli or broccoli rabe in the pan, adding a little oil and garlic, scraping up the browned bits of the pork

    Or make a big pot of lentil soup (start with several smashed garlic cloves, a little carrot, onion, celery, all chopped (or even in chunks) and let it cook slowly with olive oil till it gets tender and transparent bur not brown, and then add lentils and water, salt and pepper, and boil till cooked to your taste. or almost.  Add a package of frozen spinach or of fresh and cook it till the spinach is cooked. 

    Boil some rice.  Put all in fridge and take some out every day, heat the soup and add the cold rice and it will be perfect eating temp.  This is a full meal, with all the protein of meat, all the iron, vitamins and starch and everything you would want.  If you want a variation, toast some good solid artisan type bread, rub with garlic, put in the bottom of the pan, and ladle the soup (no rice) on top of it.  Prep time is ten minutes, but cooking time is more, but you can do it on the weekend, or use a pressure cooker if you have one.  should be about half hour, depending on your lentils. 

    anotehr easy and very fancy one dish meal is get some belgian endive, cut lenghthwise.  put a little butter in the frying pan, a 1/4 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper in the pan and the endives in cut side down.  Cover and cook till almost cooked throughy, uncover, let them brown and caramelize.  Take

    out and turn over, put some cheese, gorgonzola is good or taleggio, but you can use practically anything you like, on top, and just heat in the oven till melted.  Some bread and you have a balanced meal. 

    there are many others.  tell me your tastes and i'll give you more
  4. maryb


    Likes Received:
    Semi pro/retired now
    When I was working I used to cook on weekends and eat leftovers through my 10 day work week. Roast a whole 4-5 pound chicken, make a large beef roast with roasted potatoes and carrots, mashed potatoes, gravy etc. I would freeze half the beef and chicken for eating towards the end of my work week along with some of the cooked veg. Leftover could get used in a lot of ways, omlets, tacos, reheat some of the shredded beef in chili powder and water for chimichangas, sandwiches, leftover mashed potatoes could have an egg or two mixed in along with some fine diced onion and fried as a potato pancake...