Recipes for simple evening meals that please

As promised I will start sharing recipes for everyday meals. But first I would like to share my checklist for choosing recipes. This takes into account the people we cook for and their preferences too.

Base lunch and dinner on vegetables

Yes, as you would imagine nutrition is high on my agenda. The first food group that I account for is vegetables. In summer we can enjoy fresh colourful salads and then as the weather cools, I suggest soups and including vegetables in stir-fries, curries and pasta. By choosing in-season vegetables you maximise flavour and nutrients and save money.

Where is the protein?

Ideally we would spread our protein over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and lentils and legumes provide good sources of protein, and a range of other nutrients including iron. Protein foods can be served on the side or incorporated into the meal, for example quiche, dhal curry and beef Rogan Josh. Mixed meals are a good option if you are trying to eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of meat that you are eating.

Essential ingredients

Look for recipes that use ingredients that you and the family are familiar with. I have heard so many stories about people buying ingredients for a new ‘diet’ or recipe book, then never using them because they didn’t like the flavour, or the recipes were too complicated. Keep cooking simple — you don’t need a lot of different herbs and spices to create great flavour.

Choosing cooking oil becomes confusing too. In our household we mainly use olive oil as it can be used on salads and for most moderate heat cooking. We also have rice bran oil, which is great as a substitute for butter in baking and it is also suitable for frying.

Simple recipes

Look for recipes that provide clear instructions and do not use too many pots and pans. A stir-fry or curry may require a little time to chop the vegetables, but then you should only need one or two pots for cooking. Cooking in a slow cooker is an excellent way to save time. After you have prepared the ingredients it basically cooks the meal for you.

How many recipes do you need?

Evening meal planning in our household usually covers 7 days. The meals might include:

  • Stir-fry.
  • Curry (eaten for two nights — first night eaten with rice and second night with potato).
  • Casserole (eaten for two nights — accompanied by rice on the first night and with either pasta or potato on the second night).
  • Frittata served with a side of salad or steamed vegetables.
  • Grilled fish, chicken or meat served with mixed steamed vegetables.

We have several recipes for curries and casseroles, where as our stir-fry and frittata is usually made from whatever vegetables and herbs we have available. Consider what recipes you need. Base your selection on food preferences and nutrition and health goals.

By planning your meals ahead and selecting your recipes you can prepare your shopping list to match. This is a good use of your time and you will save money, as you will only buy what you need. Over time you will build up a collection of your favourite recipes.

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