How to be basic and get ahead: Simple time-saving tricks

No one wants to be known as basic nowadays. It’s not flattering, cute and it’s definitely not considered a compliment. If you were trying to get to know someone and a mutual friend pulled you aside and said, “He/She is soooo basic.” That person would lose some cool points, and you’d probably keep it moving. Unless basic is your thing (and that’s cool too...no judgment here).  

Despite the negative connotation associated with the word, sometimes being basic is the best way to go. Now before you give me the side eye, "let me explain" (in my Kevin Hart voice). I'm talking about being basic in a way that simplifies your life and makes your days more manageable. For this post, I’m specifically referring to the kitchen. When it comes to cooking...my hubby and I are basic without a doubt (and I’m here for it!).

I’ve never been super passionate about cooking, but I cooked on a regular basis (a girl's gotta eat) and enjoyed making a new dish or swapping recipes with my mom and sister to add variety to my weekly meals since they both threw down in the kitchen. However, when life happened, cooking was one of the first things to take a back burner, which is easy to do when it's just you and your spouse and you don’t have an entire family to feed. Still, we eventually realized eating out does add up, and although we tried to pick healthy options, it still left me feeling greasy and bloated after a while.

There are some days when your schedule is packed or if you’re dealing with grief, just had a baby or handling another major change that has thrown your life into a frenzy, it helps to find ways to simplify your life (cooking is definitely one of those areas I want simplified). Even if you love to cook it up like Chef Boyardee or Rachael Ray in the kitchen, you can still benefit from creating a simple meal plan, especially on days when you’re not up for cooking but you want to eat at home to save your dollars. 

Spending less time in the kitchen means you’ll have more time to get other things done, whether it’s relaxing with your family or working on a project.

Now if cooking is a stress reliever for you, then go ahead and have at it. Just remember, even if you absolutely love it, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from something you love every now and again.


Cooking made easy

I’ve never been a person who needs variety for my meals, and I’m so glad my husband doesn’t either. We don’t mind eating leftovers, and we pretty much stick to the same foods for our major meals. It’s easier to stay on track with healthy eating when you stick to foods you enjoy.

Some may call it boring. I call it brilliant and a blessing that we're on the same page because that means we don’t have to stand in front of the stove constantly wondering, “What are we going to eat tonight?” If I want variety, I save it for the weekend when we go out to an actual restaurant. But after working my 9-5, coming home to do my freelance work and then working on my own projects, I’ll pick convenience over variety any day. When it comes to the kitchen, I'm all about being Basic K, not Rachael Ray. Here’s a peek of the basicness that goes on in our kitchen:  


Basic Meals  

Grab-and-go breakfast

Breakfast has become one of my favorite meals of the day. I like having breakfast options that I can make in ten minutes or less. Sure, we splurge on the weekends and make omelets, turkey bacon and pancakes, but “ain’t nobody got time for that”during the week! Here are my favorite grab-and-go breakfast meals that I can make in less than 10 minutes: 

Oatmeal: My husband prefers steel cut oats because it’s the “healthier” option, but I don’t have time to fool with them in the morning during a workweek (tried it...failed it). To stick to my 10-minute breakfast plan, I’m all about quick oats on the stovetop in the a.m. I keep several bags of frozen fruit on hand along with sliced almonds, honey and shredded coconut. These are all items you can toss into your oatmeal after it’s done on the stovetop.

Smoothies: You can’t go wrong with smoothies. They are quick to make, filling and tasty. You can mix and match fruits and veggies for a different taste. I use our NutriBullet and then just toss in whatever I have on hand at the moment.

Here's one of my favorite smoothies to make in the a.m.:

  • 1 cup of vanilla almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower seed butter or peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup of spinach or other
  • 1 scoop of Jay Robb chocolate protein powder

I also make my own yogurt parfait with plain Greek yogurt (as shown in the above photo). It’s a quick and filling breakfast and one of my favorite meals in the morning. 


Green and lean lunch

I eat a salad just about everyday for lunch. It’s healthy, filling and appetizing, so I don’t have a reason to switch it up. There are small things you can do to add a little variety that won’t take a lot of time.  

My salads usually consist of:  

  • Greens: romaine lettuce (my favorite) or spring mix
  • Protein: grilled chicken, tuna or garbanzo beans  
  • Veggies: tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers  
  • Toppings: Walnuts, almonds, sometimes croutons and dressing (usually balsamic or raspberry walnut). Sometimes I’ll add avocado or goat cheese or shredded cheese.  

Simple dinners that double

At least once a week I know we are going to eat some type of baked fish (normally salmon or mahi-mahi); a Mexican dish with beans (because I could eat Mexican food almost every day); and a dish with either ground turkey or baked chicken (normally combined with stir fry or a grain, such as couscous, brown rice or quinoa). We also like to cook in batches to make our meals last for a few days. I don’t eat pork or red meat, so that limits my options, but if you do, then you have even more choices to choose from.

One of my favorite dinner dishes to make in 30 minutes or less is a taco bowl. I love the taco bowl because I can throw it on top of lettuce the next day for a salad, place leftovers on top of tortilla chips for nachos, or place it inside of a taco shell (simple meals that double are a plus if you like variety).


Basic Tips:

  • Jot down a list of foods you enjoy and wouldn’t mind eating on a regular basis (this also makes it super easy at the grocery store...I'll follow-up on this in a later article)
  • Cook quick meals that you can make in batches (e.g., chili, pasta, etc.)  
  • Opt for simple recipes that don’t require a lot of time, meal prep or ingredients (because sometimes you just don’t have the energy to visit three stores for a dash of saffron).  
  • If variety is important to you or someone in your home, cook meals that you can turn into multiple dishes (e.g., make a pot of chili and then use the leftovers to create a burrito)  

Click here to view some of my favorite go-to basic dishes.  

Hope you enjoy being basic where it counts!  

 

Yours truly,