Intentional living · Minimalism · Simplicity

Simplifying Meals

I have a full-time job, and on good days, by the time I get home from work, it will be 7.30pm. I will then have a very small window of time to cook, eat, clean and wind down, before I am meant to go to bed at 10.00pm (I get up at 6.00am to hit the gym, and I try to get 8 hours of sleep every night).

It is therefore crucial for me to be able to prepare dinner in the shortest amount of time possible.

I used to eat out all the time after work – it’s fast and lazy convenient. It will take me only about half an hour to order and eat.

But after doing that for more than a year, I am starting to feel sick about eating out every day. The thought of all the foods that are most accessible to me is enough to make me lose my appetite. This, not including the fact that eating out is oftentimes expensive and usually unhealthy.

So now, I try to prepare my own dinner whenever I can. But because I am not a very good or experienced cook, it usually takes me longer to prep and cook. I think many will fall asleep watching me chop up my vegetables. Either that, or they will be so awake worrying about whether I will chop off my fingers by accident.

But my mum has some wise words to say about this:-

“The amount of time taken for you to drive out, look for food, and come home will more or less be the same amount of time you will take to cook and clean. Besides, the more you cook, the better your skills will be, and you will eventually take less time.”

Which is all true. Yes, eating out is the most convenient option, since it doesn’t involve much work (it involves much money though). But the time either options take in total are actually comparable.

Besides, I already eat out for lunch (this is when I socialise with work colleagues and friends)

So, the best kind of cooking for me to do is the simple kind. The kind that involves no more than 5 main ingredients (seasonings and condiments involve almost no work, so they don’t count). The kind that can be prepared in preferably 30 minutes (since it will take me another 15-20 minutes to clean up after).

When I cook, I try to be as plant-based as possible. The only non plant-based ingredients I usually use are eggs and occasionally, tuna.

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Tuna and spinach pasta

Going plant-based when it comes to cooking definitely makes the whole process easier. There is less cleaning and early preparation required. No need to make sure I have defrosted the meat I intend to use, no need to marinate them. With a plant-based cooking, the only thing that I need to preplan is to soak my dried nuts and/or beans (I hate the canned versions, so I buy the dried ones).

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My love for chickpeas is undying. My friends call me a chickpea whore.

Plus working and living next to a supermarket helps. I can buy fresh produce over lunch break, or when I get home from work. No need for me to buy in bulk, since that will usually mean that they will go bad before I can finish them (since I usually cook for one, and I sometimes do not get to cook every day). I will usually just buy whatever I need for the day’s dinner on that day itself, and should normally finish up those fresh produce within 2-3 days.

My cookings are nothing great or special. But they are hearty and healthy. They are simple, and they are what I like. I get to control what I put in them, and bonus point: they usually cost less than eating out, if planned carefully.

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So simple yet hearty. Raw wild rockets and cherry tomatoes with leftover brown rice and a fried egg. The dressing is made with dijon mustard, agave syrup and seasonings.

Of course, there will be days when I have to stay back at work. On such days, I will either just eat out or eat a few pieces of biscuits with a cup of hot drink and call it a night. It doesn’t make sense for me to still take 30 minutes to an hour to cook and to finally have dinner at 9.30pm, when I am supposed to go to bed at 10.00pm.

It is important to know that it is OK to be flexible. It is OK to slip up sometimes. We cannot have full control of our lives all the time, and that is fine.

All we can do is try our best in the circumstance that we are in.

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