It’s not the worst problem to have, of course. If I didn’t need to eat, I’d be dead, and that’s a worse fate than having to spend 20 minutes making a pot of dahl.
So. I cook. Along the way, I’ve devised a few ground rules for the lazy, hates-to-cook person (me) and I’ve come up with a few healthy default meals that I make several times a week so I don’t have to put any extra thought into cooking, because, ugh.
Here my personal rules for cooking and eating, followed by one of the meals I make several times a week.
My Rules for Cooking and Eating When You’re Lazy:
- I will spend no more than 12 minutes actively preparing a meal. (I do not include simmering or boiling time since I don’t have to pay full attention while that’s happening.)
- I will choose meals that require the fewest possible utensils, bowls, or other accoutrement.
- I will listen to good music or NPR to pass time/help me forget I’m cooking.
- I’m a vegetarian, so no meat. I eat some dairy (and always only if its organic).
- Vegetables and non-animal protein will comprise the majority of the meal.
- I eat some carbs and sugar because I’m human, but I try to keep them on a leash. As for the carb-and-sugar items for which I have a specific weakness (pasta! cookies!), I have a few workarounds. Okay, I lied. I have a work around for the wheat pasta but not the cookies. I mean, what do you substitute for a cookie?)
Following these rules, here’s one of the meals I make for myself several times a week. Its healthy (I hope), tasty* (at least I think so) and really fast to make. I call it the “Lazy Healthy Person’s Mac & Cheese With Very Little or No Cheese.”
*I invented this ad hoc meal so if you try it and think it sucks, I’m sorry. Also, I wing it when it comes to measurements.
- I make a pot of tea to drink while cooking. It tastes good and helps alleviate the boredom of cooking. (I made two pots today because I couldn’t decide which flavor I wanted more).
- Flip on the radio. Listen to Fresh Air, or if the guest is boring, Peter Gabriel covers of Peter Gabriel songs.
- Put on a pot of water and boil up a serving size of Tinkyada gluten-free brown rice pasta. (This pasta tastes awesome and has great texture.)
- Take a big sauté pan and add a little olive oil (or another, higher heat oil, though I never take the heat very high at all), some crushed hot pepper, one chopped clove of garlic, two overflowing handfuls of spinach and some cubed tempeh if I have some on hand.
- Side note: I buy greens like spinach in huge bags so that I feel compelled to add extra spinach to everything I cook (since I’m afraid that it will all go bad if I don’t use it pronto). It’s a great little trick to eat more greens.
- Sauté it all just until the spinach starts to wilt. Then I turn off the burner and put on the cover while I….
- Take a small mixing bowl and add one clove minced garlic, a handful of slivered almonds, one small handful chopped walnuts, some chopped spinach, some chopped parsley, and some chopped watercress. (You can buy the almonds already slivered and the walnuts already chopped. Chopping the greens is really fast and I don’t care if the pieces are still kinda big. Watercress is SUPER healthy for you, but it is a pain to de-stem. So I just de-stem as many as I can within my 12-minute “active cooking” limit and call it good. )
- When I finish this, I usually have some time to kill before the pasta is done boiling (it takes approx 11 minutes). So I check my email or play Words with Friends.
- When the noodles are done, I strain them, put them in a bowl and drizzle them with a bit of olive oil. Then I scoop the sautéed mixture on the noodles, then I scoop the raw mixture of greens/nuts/garlic on the sautéed mix, and then I top the whole thing with half an avocado (doled out in small spoonfuls) and the smallest tablespoon of goat cheese (optional).
- Then I eat it with chopsticks. I eat almost everything with chopsticks because it prevents me from eating too fast, which I do when left alone with a fork.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, that sounds completely disgusting.” But its not. I promise. Plus, it’s filling and healthy and I usually have enough left over for a second bowl the next day.