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Very low effort meals needed

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IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Mon 23-Nov-15 13:25:12

I have ME/CFS and have just realised I need to be more strategic about time spent in the kitchen. I need to reduce effort as much as possible, basically. Shame, as I enjoy cooking (sometimes) and have resisted making this change for too long. I use a perching stool so I can sit while I chop but still, the lower effort the better.

I need to change my shopping habits to include more preprepared frozen veg, frozen steam rice, more family size ready meals, and incorporate more dishes that are like 'dump the jar on the chicken beasts and walk away for forty minutes'.

So, please share your low effort tips. I would really really appreciate it.

WorraLiberty Mon 23-Nov-15 13:31:43

Grab a chicken breast

Make a slit from top to bottom to form a pocket

Stuff with mozzarella

Wrap in ham or bacon rasher (secure with cocktail stick)

Dab with BBQ sauce and pop it in the oven for about 35 or 40 mins.

You could serve with frozen veg, rice, chips or even jacket spuds.

SugarMiceInTheRain Mon 23-Nov-15 13:32:33

My best tip for low effort meals is a slow cooker. Chuck everything in it in the morning, turn it on and serve up dinner in the evening. I rely on it heavily as I work afternoons/ evenings so have no time for meal prep after picking the children up from school. I too enjoy cooking, or used to when I wasn't under so much time pressure, but for now, my main criteria are easy and quick.

I mainly make thick soups and stews in my slow cooker but they are great for chilli, bolognese and pot roasts too. There are some great blogs out there dedicated to slow cooker (or crock pot) recipes.

IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Mon 23-Nov-15 13:35:41

Thanks both.

Worra that sounds scrummy.

Sugar my slow cooker broke about three months ago and I haven't replaced it yet. The husband doesn't really like the slightly 'mushy' texture everything gets in a slow cooker. You are right about soups especially, though, and I do eat a lot of soups.

MitzyLeFrouf Mon 23-Nov-15 13:41:53

When making any meal that requires rice cook extra and have egg fried rice for dinner the next day.

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Mon 23-Nov-15 13:45:01

worra I'm drooling angry
Op, If you enjoy cooking then batch cooking and freezing is a good option. One afternoon of cooking to give you then an easier time the rest of the week. Its a shame to lose something you enjoy. personally I hate cooking and think your mad grin
Pre chopped veg isn't a crime either, I buy prechopped onions.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Mon 23-Nov-15 13:46:17

Eggs are wonderful for quick, easy meals. Scrambled, poached, boiled, omelettes, served with toast/bread and salad or sticks of carrot/peppers/celery and some cherry tomatoes. Fruit afterwards.

One of the easiest, quickest meals imaginable (wouldn't win any nutritional prizes, but hey! you can't have everything) is fried egg and potato waffles. I put the waffles in the toaster on the highest setting. They're better if you toast them twice in succession as then they're a bit crisper.

poocatcherchampion Mon 23-Nov-15 13:48:13

Frozen mash and mirco rice. grin

Also watching for inspiration

ET4444 Mon 23-Nov-15 13:50:18

The Madhouse cookery book by Jo Pratt is brill for quick easy meals- I've cooked nearly every recipe and the kids have enjoyed everything so far!

BiscuitMillionaire Mon 23-Nov-15 14:00:41

Jacket potato with any number of fillings (baked beans, cheese, cream cheese, hummus, tuna mayo...). If you have the energy to, brush some olive oil and salt onto the skin before baking in the oven, then they're crispy and delicious. (I cook in microwave first then finish in the oven for 15 mins on high).

Pasta, pesto, any veg the kids like, cheese on top.

HeyMicky Mon 23-Nov-15 14:10:47

Salmon fillets smeared with pesto and new potatoes roasted in the oven. Serve with frozen peas

Pre chopped peppers and onions with tinned tomatoes, simmer till soft, crack in an egg per person and cook through. Serve with bread

Frozen white fish and a variety of Asian veg (you can packs with broccoli, spring onions, baby corn and mange tout), pour on a ready made marinade, roast in little foil parcels. Serve with microwave rice

The bags of pre shredded stir fry veg are fine - add beef strips or frozen prawns plus a jar of sauce

Pasta bake is very simple - add frozen veg to up the fibre

Pre chopped bags of root veg + chicken thighs, drizzle over olive oil, shake of paprika and roast

I spotted some frozen bags of mixed grains and rice with different flavourings (Mediterranean, Mexican and Middle Eastern) in Tesco the other day which would be a good base for meals. I'm thinking I might give the Mexican one a try, and slice over a very thin grilled steak, some avocados and halved cherry tomatoes

sparechange Mon 23-Nov-15 14:24:22

Use trimmed leeks instead of onions. Similar flavour, but take much less time to peel and chop
Buy those pouches of rice, quinoa, lentils, spelt grains, and use them as carbs instead of potatoes. They only take a few mins in the microwave, instead of peeling/boiling spuds
One pot dishes like curries - meat of your choice, then add a tin of tomatoes, then add dried herbs and spices to taste, leave for 20 mins, add more veg, microwave a pouch of rice. Done!

IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Mon 23-Nov-15 14:32:19

These are fab ideas. Thanks so much. I am already a convert to frozen diced onions!

Will have to adapt some of these as all of us have weird dietary requirements (one nut allergy, one prescribed low-fibre diet, one grain and dairy free, one just a fussy fucker).

But that is totally doable. I am loving these.

learnermummy Mon 23-Nov-15 14:39:55

Was just about to post about frozen chopped onions but see you've got that! I can't live without them!

GeekyQueen Mon 23-Nov-15 14:46:11

Fry a chopped onion, add a pepper, courgette and broccoli (all chopped as small as you can bear) add a packet of fajita seasoning, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a small tin of refried beans and simmer for 5mins. Divide mixture between 8 tortillas, roll up and put in a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts. Cook at 200 degrees for 20 minutes ish.

I think it looks longer than it is reading that back, but it's so quick.

Or, using a cheese grater, grate two courgettes and then squeeze out as much water as possible. Fry some garlic and chilli, then add the courgette, cook for a few minutes before stiring in some cream cheese. Mix in with cook pasta (might need to add a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce).

Line a baking tray with back bacon, on top of the back add thin slices of cheddar and then top with slices of onion. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, serve with baked potato and beans. Obviously very healthy wink grin

PurpleHairAndPearls Mon 23-Nov-15 14:46:21

I am disabled/have chronic pain and loved cooking, but have to pace myself. Things that helped me adjust:

Frozen diced onions
Frozen chopped garlic
Frozen chopped chilli
Frozen chopped ginger (sainsburys do little cartons of each of these)
Ready made pastry
Special utensils etc with ergonomic handles
Light saucepans etc
Frozen mash blush
A microwave that ovens and grills in case I can't bend to use the main oven

I do use the slow cooker a lot and tend to make things like stews - make a load at one time, freeze some, use some in a pie with ready made pastry etc.

I make a lot of things like pasta bake which involve a bit of cooking to start then I can leave it alone while I rest. I have a veggie DD too so have a lot of little foil containers with lids - always make a veggie version alongside whatever I cook and freeze in single portions.

I buy a lot of Frozen ready prepared sachets of rice and veg. It's more £££ but I tell myself this is what my PIP is for.

I also make a cake once a week which makes me happy smile

PurpleHairAndPearls Mon 23-Nov-15 14:48:50

Oh and the biggest thing for me was having things like ready made pizza bases in cupboard and ready meals in freezer and realising I don't have to cook a proper homemade meal each night

Sounds stupid I know but it's hard to change habits!

babybat Mon 23-Nov-15 14:56:07

YY to a slow cooker - you can literally spend ten minutes preparing the ingredients in the morning and then leave it to do its thing and come back at dinner time to lovely homemade stew. Plus it's easy to make extra and then you have leftovers.

Couscous is super-easy - just equal parts couscous and boiling water, in a pyrex bowl, cover and leave for 5 minutes.

Eggs are great fast protein - scrambled eggs or an omelette take very little time and are easy to digest. My favourite easy weeknight dinner is a can of ratatouille in a baking dish, make a well and crack an egg in, then bake until the egg's set and the ratatouille's bubbling. Serve with crusty bread or couscous.

I decided to go for buying some ready sliced mushrooms the other day as sometimes I buy mushrooms and what with the faff of cleaning and slicing they weren't getting used (sometimes)
The sliced ones were very handy in several dishes and think I'll be getting those again.
I've also started grating carrots and courgettes as that seems easy and they then cook quickly so can be added to sauces at a later stage

IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Mon 23-Nov-15 15:31:29

These are some great ideas.

I'm not sure I would say I definitely always enjoy cooking. But now I really can't provide a home cooked meal every night it suddenly seems like a big part of my identity and a source of 'job satisfaction' iyswim. And it pretty much sucks not being able to just potter around throwing things in pots and chopping a few extra bits to chuck in here and there,just because I need that energy for, oh, maybe, showing tomorrow.

Anyway. I have been astounded by the range of prepared frozen veg I can get. Ocado has frozen grilled Mediterranean veg... They can go in a ratatouille or soup or omelette, easy peaky.

IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Mon 23-Nov-15 15:32:20

*Showering tomorrow

MrsMolesworth Mon 23-Nov-15 15:51:40

Easiest dinner:

Put chicken thighs with skins into a roasting dish. Pour a glass of white wine over them and half a glass of water. Put some unpeeled garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary in with them. Salt and pepper. Bake at 200 for 35-45 mins. They go golden and crispy skinned with a gooey wine jus underneath.
variations: add cherry tomatoes and black olives not rosemary and garlic, then add fresh torn basil at the end.
Add fresh tarragon and lemon wedges with garlic but no rosemary.

Put baby potatoes in a bowl with a spoonful of olive oil, shake or stir until coated. Sprinkle with salt and paprika or herbes de provence. Put in oven for 35 mins.

Serve with leaf salad or petit pois and broccoli. the garlic bakes inside its skin and can be squeezed out with a knife to be eaten with the potatoes or the chicken.

Prep time is about 5 mins max, but it looks, smells and tastes like lots of love has gone into it.

Next easiest

drizzle salmon steaks with honey and soy. Cover with foil if you like them pale or leave if you like the salmon drier and crispier.
Bake for 30 mins.
After 25 mins, pour boiling water onto rice noodles in a bowl and leave to soften for a couple of minutes then drain.
Stir fry ready bought stir fry veg 5 mins before serving.

shutupandshop Mon 23-Nov-15 15:57:54

Bung salmon fillets in microwave for a couple of mintues, new pots and frozen vegetables.

MrsMolesworth Mon 23-Nov-15 16:03:11

I always use garlic paste not fresh except when the cloves are roasted whole, unpeeled. It tastes good and is versatile.

IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Mon 23-Nov-15 16:04:52

Great ideas for easy glazes for salmon or chicken here, thanks!

So we have honey and soy (MrsM), I also like honey and mustard, maple and soy, lemon and fresh dill (salmon). I seem to remember a really good thread on here a while back about what to put on salmon. Will look it up.

And that chicken and garlic dish sounds LUSH.

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