4 Feb 2016

healthy eating with a busy lifestyle (& a little recipe!)

Sometimes, after a long day, the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. This can lead to skipping meals and in the long run, this isn't good for the human body. I'm lucky in that, living at home, my mum doesn't mind cooking for me but when she's at work (which she does part-time), I'm responsible for my own dinner. As a result, I've become a bit of an expert in cooking quick meals that require minimal prep time and even less cook time. 

One of my specialties is a potato salad and I've shared my 'recipe' for it at the end of this post. I've called it a recipe but it's so brief and simple, I'm not sure it deserves that title.

For me, the key to quick meals are to have a certain few ingredients in your fridge, freezer and cupboards at all times. These include:

cupboard: rice noodles, spaghetti and pasta, rice, eggs, chilli flakes, paprika, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper and sugar.

fridge: garlic, spring onions, tomato puree, tomatoes, lettuce (it can keep for over a week!) and chinese leaf.

freezer: prawns, sweetcorn, peas, frozen veg, Quorn mince and fish (usually salmon or sea bass).

My list is very South East Asian (with a bit of Italian thrown in!) but you can adapt yours to your own tastebuds. I'm a fan of spice and minimal salt (I tend to use herbs to flavour instead!). With the basic ingredients shown above, I can whip up a meal in less than fifteen minutes. I'd also recommend getting a rice cooker: you can honestly put all ingredients for a meal in there and then leave it to cook. I used to do that during exam time and the meals didn't taste that bad either! You won't gain any Michelin stars but at least you'll be eating fresh food without resorting to ready meals.

Examples of quick meals using these ingredients are:

Rice noodle soup: rice noodles, fish sauce, sesame oil, chilli flakes, sugar, chinese leaf, spring onions and prawns.

Vegetarian spaghetti bolognase: spaghetti, garlic, tomato puree, tomatoes, salt and pepper, oregano, basil, Quorn mince.

Fried rice: eggs, rice, ground pepper, sweetcorn and peas.

Omelette with boiled rice: rice, peas, eggs, ground pepper.

Other things you can do is batch cook things such as chilli con carne, bolognase, paella, etc. and freeze portions for those times where you don't even feel like whipping up something quick from scratch. 

And as promised, here's the recipe to a quick and simple potato salad!

Just a little prelude - I've gone gluten free due to medical advice (and have been for fifteen months now) so lunch is a bit of an issue for me. Hospital canteens are really good at lacing their food with gluten and I've had to bring lunch with me everyday. I try and ensure my lunch is made the night before and quite often, this equates to a super quick potato salad. How much you decide to spend on each ingredient is up to you but this can be a cheap and fast recipe for those on a budget and who don't have the time to spend on making elaborate lunches that require rinsing and rinsing (quinoa, I'm looking at you!).


Potatoes (baby potatoes work best but you can use baking ones and then chop them up once cooked)
Rocket salad
Other salad leaves of your choice (spinach and lettuce work great here)
Ham/prosciutto/bacon/a meat of your choosing (or not if you're vegetarian)
Mayonnaise (I tend to use the lowest fat one I can find)
Black pepper
Salt (I don't usually add salt and it tastes fine)

1. Wash the rocket, salad leaves and potatoes.
2. Microwave the potatoes until they are cooked to your liking.
3. Chop up the ham/meat. Once the potatoes are done, chop them up too.
4. Put all of the washed leaves into a bowl and add the potatoes once they've cooled down.
5. Add mayonnaise, grind some pepper and salt and then mix!
6. Put in a tupperware box, refrigerate and then remember to take it with you when you leave the house in the morning.


  1. I love the "Microwave the potatoes until they are cooked to your liking." part of this recipe. How long do you normally microwave it for? (Just, as a guide...)

    1. It depends on how big your potatoes are and if you like them a bit underdone (sort of like al dente pasta but potato style - weirdly, I know a few people who like potatoes this way). I usually do 10 mins for medium sized potatoes x

  2. What an excellent recipe! It definitely deserves the title. Have you ever tried it without mayonnaise? Would this work with a sauce other than mayonnaise? Any suggestions?

    1. Depends on the problem with mayonnaise. Creme fraiche; greek yogurt or salad cream would probably work too, I expect.

    2. I've never tried it without mayo as I find that potato salads need some sort of condiment to make it less dry. Salad cream would work very well, as would pasta sauces maybe? x

  3. The problem with mayonnaise is the consistency. I don't really like creamy foodstuffs.