Part 1: Cooking

Cooking meals from scratch is a great way to save money and eat more healthfully, compared to eating out. But cooking doesn’t always seem quick and easy.  You have to find a recipe, make sure you have all the ingredients, cook the food, and then clean up the mess.  It can feel overwhelming. 

That’s where a meal template can help.  Cooking from a template can make home-made meals faster and easier than eating out!

A meal template (below) is a framework within which to build a unique and interesting meal, without following a recipe. Just plug in the ingredients you like or have available, add some seasonings, and you are finished! 

You may even have all the ingredients you need on hand.  This is a great way to use up leftovers and discover new flavor combinations.

Stir fry meal template
Pasta meal template
Mexican meal template

Creating a meal that is fast and easy (as well as delicious and nutritious) may seem like an impossible task.  Here are some tips to help make it easier:

  • A pre-cooked rotisserie chicken can be purchased for nearly the same cost as an uncooked chicken. Add a bagged salad and a loaf of whole grain bread, and you have a complete, balanced, easy meal.
  • Keep canned beans and veggies, boxes of pasta, and canned pasta sauces in your pantry for an easy go-to meal.
  • Repurpose leftover meat and chicken by freezing it and adding it to new dishes later.
  • When you have spare time, pre-cut or chop vegetables and fruits such onions, bell peppers and cantaloupe, so that it is easy and available the next time you need food in a hurry.
  • Frozen fruits and veggies are picked at their peak, and are often more nutritious than fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep your freezer stocked with your favorites, such as broccoli florets and blueberries.

Bon appetit!