How to make a quick-and-easy healthy meal when you’d rather sit on the couch

Sometimes, you get home from a long day, and can’t imagine doing anything other than plopping down in front of the TV for the rest of the night. You’re tired, hungry and can’t imagine lifting a finger to put dinner together.

But I find the most rewarding meals are the ones you make when you really don’t want to cook. And I’ve gotten these sorts of meals down to a science: I know how to be quick and efficient in the kitchen to maximize my couch-sitting time.

veggies2

So here’s a really good example of how I throw together a quick and healthy meal, using a meal I’ve made a few times before.

I think a lot of people who don’t know how to cook think it’s difficult because they don’t know how to plan out the multiple components of a meal. Cooking IS multitasking, and one of the best ways to improve is to have a plan before you start. Also, keep in mind that every time you cook a meal, you’ll get better at maximizing your time!

Also, if you’re thinking you’d be better off going through the drive-through, consider this: the amount of time you’ll spend in transit and sitting in line is probably longer than the 15 minutes of active cooking I did here. Yes, there are 30 minutes of inactive prep time, but I got to spend those at home rather than having to leave my apartment.

STEP 1:

Choose your grain, protein and veggie. Tonight I picked brown rice, tofu and broccoli and peppers. I chose the rice and the tofu because they are relatively low-maintenance and capitalize on passive prep and cooking techniques.

STEP 2:

Start by prepping your passive ingredients. Since brown rice takes the longest, I knew I had 45 minutes until dinner would be ready, so I started the rice in the rice cooker. Passive cooking!

cookerAnd I sliced the tofu and pressed it for 30 minutes. Passive prep!

pressThis gave me 30 free minutes. Whoo!

STEP 3:

Ok, so we’re now down to 15 minutes ’til dinner. I’m going to start by chopping up my tofu and veggies.

tofuHey, look, I had two servings of tofu here. How convenient that I’ve already pressed another serving so I can grab-and-go next time I need a quick dinner!

Another tip: choose veggies that you don’t have to chop finely. I used red bell pepper and broccoli, and I rough-chopped both of them.

veggiesSTEP 4:

Heat up your pans. For these veggies, I blanched them in boiling water, so I filled a pot and turned it on high. At the same time, I heated up some olive oil in a skillet and fried up my tofu, browning the pieces on both sides.

STEP 5:

Choose a sauce. I used this delicious pre-made curry sauce from Trader Joe’s:

curryExperiment with different store-bought sauces, or find some sauce recipes that you can make ahead of time (on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps?) and store in the fridge to use at your convenience. When your protein is prepared, pour the sauce into the pan and heat it up!

STEP 6:

Put all the components together and enjoy!

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tofu1I put my tofu and sauce right on top of my rice!

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2 thoughts on “How to make a quick-and-easy healthy meal when you’d rather sit on the couch

  1. Elise, are you a vegetarian? Or is Tofu a choice often because it is easier to store in a dorm fridge? I haven’t been able to develop a taste for Tofu (though I used it as the base for pumpkin pie once, and that was great!). Did you do all of this in your dorm room? Amazing!

    • I’m not a vegetarian, I just don’t really eat meat at home. I do so for health reasons, environmental reasons, economic reasons (MUCH cheaper to eat plant proteins!)…etc. Also I really do like the taste of tofu, and it’s super simple to have around. You don’t have to worry about it going bad as quickly as raw meat, which can only stay in the fridge for a day or must be frozen, and there’s very little worry about cross-contamination.

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