We all lead busy lives so any help around the home is always welcome. As a mother or wife, putting healthy, tasty and enjoyable food on the table can seem such a chore sometimes. To keep everybody happy it takes effort and imagination and if you also work for a living, it can be very sapping at the end of a long day. There’s no need to strive to be a domestic goddess. If you apply a little foresight when you are shopping you can have a kitchen full of items ready to turn into delicious meals in minutes. Here are 10 quick smart foods to buy to cope with any meal demand.
1. Microwaveable Rice
Ok, so purists may turn their nose up at this but who cares? We’re talking convenient, healthy and tasty. This is a quick smart food with a massive range of flavors. You’ve got an accompaniment to a main meal, the basis of a stir fry, a marvellous start for a stuffing or even just a yummy snack and it’s all ready in a couple of minutes and a ping.
2. Frozen Peas
No freezer is complete without a bag of peas. As well as being that much needed 2nd vegetable they can be added with potato and onion to eggs to whip up a Spanish omelette, added to stir fries and curries, any vegetarian recipe using a mix of produce and pureed into gorgeous soups. And, no nutrients are lost because they are frozen so quickly after being picked.
3. Herbs in a Tube or Frozen
Fresh herbs really pep up the flavours of a meal but it’s impossible to have every variety on hand unless you grow your own or pass a market every day. Freeze-dried, tubed and jarred herbs and spices are quick smart foods that are infinitely better than those dried versions that might have been at the back of your cupboard for more months than you can remember. Look out for all the staple green herbs as well as jars of ready to use ginger, garlic and chillies.
With a jar or carton of passata (sieve tomatoes) you are never at a loss for a base for a hearty sauce for pasta or meatballs or as the sauce for scrummy home-made pizza toppings. If you’re stuck for pre-dinner drinks, Passata is a quick smart food to the rescue. Add it to vodka with Worcestershire sauce and celery salt and hey presto - the perfect Bloody Mary.
This simple melty soft cheese is one of the highly versatile quick smart foods you should always have on hand. You can make a great tasting Mac and cheese in minutes by simply stirring it into cooked macaroni with grated cheddar. Mash with hot-smoked salmon or mackerel for an instant pate. Rustle up a cheesecake, pep up a soup with a dollop and for accompanying any sweet dish, just mix with some (vanilla) sugar.
6. Curry Paste
Making curries from scratch may be hugely rewarding and undoubtedly probably taste terrific but it is also extremely time-consuming and certainly not a mid-week supper job. Curry pastes cover every possible Asian cuisine and flavour so if you’ve also remembered to stick a tin of coconut milk in your shopping trolley you can rustle up a curry in a few minutes. Even better if you’ve got some pre-cooked chicken (see point 10) to add the paste and milk to.
With a range of jars of antipasti in your cupboards you’ve got the makings of instant nibbles, beautiful salad ingredients, pizza toppings and the fixings for bruschetta to name just a few. Your quick smart foods should include items like marinated artichokes, stuffed chillies, roasted marinated peppers and all sorts of olives.
8. Tinned Oily Fish
Check if they are responsibly fished before putting in your basket but definitely go for tuna, sardines and anchovies. Not only are they healthy and nutritious but they can be used to top baked potato or toast, used in salads and on pizzas and they also fill sandwiches or add flavour to pasta.
9. Ready Rolled Pastry
If you’ve got a little imagination, ready rolled pastry, frozen or fresh, is one of the kings of quick smart foods. Make your own tarts with ham, tomatoes and mozzarella, stew some chicken and make into a pot pie, spread with cheddar and roll and chop into rounds and bake for instant savoury nibbles, cut into rounds and make jam tarts. The possibilities are only bounded by your creativity.
10. Ready Cooked Meat
Everyone is probably aware of ready cooked chicken drumsticks, wings and breasts, and even whole ones at the grocery store/supermarket but other ready cooked meats are really handy too. You can make terrific wraps and salads with cooked ham hocks, shredded duck and pulled beef.
Being queen of the kitchen isn’t rocket science with some thoughtful planning and foresight. With these 10 quick smart foods you only need your brain and you’ve got a whole recipe book in your head.
If you’ve got any shortcut foods you think we can all benefit from, why not let us know?
Top Photo Credit: Tassike.ee - Marju Randmer