The lazy cook’s guide to healthy weeknight meals

These simple hacks will have you whipping up delicious, healthy meals in no time

It’s the last thing you want to think about after a long day at work: what’s for dinner?

For many of us, by the time we jump in the car or on the bus at home time, our culinary imagination is all but spent. Baked beans, takeaway Indian, or a toasted cheese sandwich all start to sound pretty good.

But dinner is important. A balanced meal at night sets you up for a long and restful sleep, so loading up on veggies and protein is an excellent idea. And if you make sure your fridge and cupboard are always stocked with the basics, you can whip up delicious, healthy dinners in no time.

So put away the jaffle maker. Here are our top five hacks for effortless home cooked meals.

1. Always keep your pantry well stocked

It’s a well-known fact that an empty pantry is the gateway to takeaway food – so make sure you always have the essentials. Rice, lentils, tinned tomatoes and sweet potatoes keep for a long time and can form the base of many a healthy meal.

2. Order your groceries online

The weekly food shop isn’t easy for everyone. You might live far from the shops, or not have a car, or be busy using your Sunday to catch up on Game Of Thrones. Make your life easy and order from Coles Online – you can even do your shopping in front of the TV, and the food will be delivered straight to your door.

3. Make friends with your freezer

The microwave is the lazy chef’s best friend – but who is the microwave’s best friend? The freezer, of course. Prepare big batches of homemade, veggie-filled soups, sauces, casseroles and curries, and use your freezer to store them. You can also freeze a lot of your leftovers, and even things like chopped veggies that can be defrosted and added to meals quickly.

4. Prepare food in your downtime

Downtime? What downtime? We know that feeling. But chances are you can find just one spare hour in your week, where you can cook up part of your week’s meals. Choose some of the time-consuming or boring tasks that usually put you off preparing dinner (like chopping up veggies, cooking rice, preparing sauces), and do it all in one go. Separate into Tupperware containers, and boom! You’ve just made your week a whole lot simpler.

5. Get steamy

Always make sure you have a fridge and freezer full of steam-friendly items. Steaming is a set-and-forget way of cooking, as well as retaining all of the important vitamins and minerals – and you can steam just about everything! Fish, chicken, veggies – simply throw it in, walk away, and come back when your delicious food is ready for you.

Recommended reading - Positive psychology

Advice

10 best mental health apps

Top apps for managing anxiety, boosting your mood and checking in with your mental wellbeing.

Read more
Experts

10 things you need to know about the mind

Psychologist Emily Toner takes us inside this mysterious mass of nerves and fibres in our heads.

Read more
Advice

How mindfulness makes you calm, clear and focused

Ready to silence your mind, untangle your nerves, and really connect with your world? Here's how.

Read more
Community

Smiling Mind: Mindfulness made easy

Making mindfulness meditation free, Smiling Mind improves the mental wellbeing of young Australians

Read more
Experts

Building a better brain

Brain fitness is a lifelong commitment to health and wellbeing - Dr Brockis shares her top fit tips.

Read more
In Brief

Positive coping strategies for men

How you cope can be translated from a survey to help develop more effective mental health programs.

Read more
Guides

The power of positive thinking

How positive self-talk can improve your sports performance.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.