Cooking can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. Sure watching Food Network can get a little overwhelming for someone new to cooking. I personally love watching cooking shows to learn to tips and tricks myself, but it isn’t for everyone. Easy food to cook doesn’t have to be over complicated. It can be quite simple I think if planned properly in advance. I plan a protein, starch and a veggie with every meal I prepare for my family.
OK let’s jump into our conversation.
Let’s Talk About Meat
Meat is a staple in my house. I know plenty of people who are vegetarian or vegan, more about that on a later post, but meat is my go to protein in our house. I like to mix it up and not do the same meat every night of the weak. For instance when I plan a regular week we may have chicken twice, ground beef twice, pork once and honestly probably chicken again. I throw in some leftovers in there as well. After all this is supposed to be easy right?
Chicken Is EASY- The possibilities are endless
- You can marinade chicken. There are so many different marinades you can buy in a bottle. That is about as easy as it gets. You can marinade as long as you want. Toss in a bag or bowl, pour the marinade in it and let it go. Make sure to place back in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend more than 24hrs though. That is just my personal preference.
- You can precook chicken for a recipe a day later, or freeze once it is cooked for a later day. So basically make a double batch of chicken one night and freeze the second half. Makes for a super easy week night meal when your meat is already pre-seasoned and cooked for you. So easy that all you have to do is remember to thaw before depending on what you are using it for, or thaw as you warm it in your recipe.
- You can throw it into a crock pot with water, stock, broth basically any liquid and cook until it shreds and make any recipe with it, that you would need shredded chicken for.
Ground Beef- 80/20 or 93/7
Ground beef can vary on what you are using it for as to what fat content you want it to have. Let’s say you are making a quick skillet meal. You will want a leaner ground beef to reduce fat content and not be so greasy in your skillet. But let’s say you are making a great homemade burger, you will definitely want the higher fat content. It will cook out of the burger and will make it much more flavorful.
You can use ground beef to make anything from burgers, to skillet meals and meatloaf. One of my families personal quick ground beef favorites is to brown ground beef, lower fat for this one, add some taco seasoning and put it into nacho cheese. One our all time favorite “junk night for dinner” meals. Who doesn’t like nachos?
My family prefers pork in many different ways, BACON! Seriously, bacon is at least a once every two weeks, have to cook thing in my house. I also hate to cook bacon. I found a way to make this super easy. Microwave it. Do not bake or fry it, unless you have an air fryer. All it does it take forever and make a mess on your stove top or in your oven. Line a plate with paper towels or napkins. Lay the bacon out on it a few strips at a time. Cover with a napkin as well and in about 2min or so you have perfect bacon. A bonus on top of this method is that the napkins soak up most of the grease.
Other pork variations I cook frequently are:
- Pork sausage- smoked sausage, breakfast sausage, bratwurst links, bratwurst burgers
- Pork tenderloin- You can find this cut plain to season how you like it, or you can buy pre-seasoned ones for ease of meal prepping
- Pork chops- I like to marinade these as well and put into the crock pot and then pour over rice. So yummy. However, my husband likes them fried. I try to avoid that method with a thick cut marinaded. So much easier for me on clean up.
Side Item Staples
Side items or a complementary item to your protein doesn’t have to be complicated. I always keep a few things in my pantry that are staples to me. I can take limited items and turn them into many different side dishes.
Potatoes are absolutely essential and so versatile. You can make so many different side dishes with them. Everything from potato salad, mashed potatoes, garlic herb roasted potatoes, hash browns…etc
Rice is my personal favorite. Nothing is better to me than a pile of white rice drowned in brown gravy. Seriously though, you can toss this into a dish to “beef” it up, or just simply use it as a side.
Canned Vegetables are always in my pantry. To be honest, I much more prefer frozen and I try to keep them on hand most of the time, but sometimes you just run out and have to use a back up can. Sometimes this can literally save a meal for me.
Beans are versatile and delicious. Dried, canned or fresh, beans can be added in your main meal or served as a side dish.
How You Will Cook
In an effort to make your life easier, you need to plan how you will cook. This will depend on how you like to cook, and what you have to cook with. For instance, if you were planning on cooking bacon but do not have a microwave, then you need to plan if you will bake, fry, or air fry this particular meat.
If you do not like to stove top cook, plan meals that can be cooked all in the oven and vice versa.
Think about the cuts of meats your are going to purchase and how you will cook them before you buy them. This will take some of the hard part out of cooking the meals ahead of time.
You have to plan ahead. It is vital to make a meal plan, purchase your groceries and stick to what you bought for your meals. I am personally not one to plan exactly what meal we will eat exactly what day. It gives me anxiety to think about a meal I had set for certain day and now do not feel like cooking that particular thing that day. I think it is better to just know your list of meals and sides you wish to cook during the period time you are purchasing for. Then you can mix and match the meals and sides together for whatever fits your mood, or schedule for the day. No hard pressure, make it easier on yourself.
I love to cook. I love to experiment with all different cuts of meats and marinades or even my own homemade seasoning blend. You can spend all day coming up with different combinations of meats and pantry staples. People like to over complicate things with fancy terms and such, much of the time. Just stick to your basics and basically every food is a easy food to cook. Once you get more into exploration with certain foods, then get the fancy going on. The basics are always the basics to most meals.
I would love to know what your basic pantry staples are.