Cooking from scratch often seems like a daunting task to many. The convenience of heating up a frozen meal compared to starting from single ingredients is much more appealing on a Monday night for most families! As a dietitian cooking healthy and fresh meals is a passion of mine, but I sometimes it seems nearly impossible on a weeknight. Below I am sharing my tips on how to make cooking from scratch easy (and fun!) for you and your family:
· Meal prepping: Meal prepping does not have to be complicated! it can be simple as washing and cutting all fruits and veggies that are then ready to be incorporated into a recipe. It can also be making an entire meal on a Sunday ready to be eaten later in the week. Planning and setting aside two hours on the weekend for prepping and cooking can save you hours during the week. Trust me, there is nothing better than coming home to a home-cooked meal that doesn’t require any prep on a weeknight!
· 5 or less ingredients: Stick to recipes with 5 or less ingredients. This saves time and keeps things simple. For 5 ingredient recipe ideas check out Cooking Light: https://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy/5-ingredient-healthy-recipes
· Get the family involved: Make meal prepping a weekend activity with your kids! Cooking with your kids doesn’t mean a simple baking recipe – they now have tools out there for safe chopping for ages 5 and up. Check out these nylon knives that can be used for chopping fruits add veggies: https://www.amazon.com/Curious-Chef-3-Piece-Nylon-Knife/dp/B002Q5YH9C Get the whole family involved, it’s a fun activity and will result in meals for your family throughout the week.
· Cut a few corners: You can still cook from scratch while incorporating a few pre-made items to help speed up the process. I like to use pre-made marinara sauce with 5 or less grams of sugar in the sauce or low sodium stir-fry sauces. You can also purchase fresh or frozen pre-cut veggies to save some time.
I’m sharing one of my favorite family recipes that requires only 5 ingredients and is ready in less than 30 minutes, Pasta Carbonara. This recipe tastes like it required hours to make, but only takes 5 main ingredients.
· 2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature
· 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated pecorino Romano, plus additional for serving
· 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Parmesan
· 3 ½ ounces of bacon, sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square
· 12 ounces spaghetti (about 3/4 box)
· Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place a large pot of water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with hot water for serving, and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and pecorino and Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and generous black pepper.
3. Set the water to boil. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the bacon, and sauté until just slightly crispy, but not hard. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Add pasta to the water and boil until a bit firmer than al dente. Just before pasta is ready, reheat bacon in skillet, if needed. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and add to the skillet over low heat. Stir for a minute or so.
5. Empty serving bowl of hot water. Dry it and add hot pasta mixture. Stir in cheese mixture, adding some reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately, dressing it with a bit of additional grated pecorino and pepper.
Time: 25 minutes
Adapted from: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12965-spaghetti-carbonara’
This week’s blog post was written by Tess Loughran MS, RD, LDN