Cooking Ideas For Busy Professionals


The NZS.nz Cooking Ideas for Busy Professionals article contains information on recipes, food ideas and fast meals for busy professionals in New Zealand.

“Healthy cooking” and “quick and simple meals” are common everyday phrases, but in a society with longer work hours and rising obesity levels, striking a balance is not always easy.

For many New Zealanders, the thought of cooking for themselves and or their family at the end of the day is a daunting prospect. However, with a little planning and the help of some handy hints it needn’t be.

Basic Ingredients

Quick, tasty meals need not be at the expense of healthy and low cost options. Basic ingredients for your pantry such as rice, pasta, couscous, flavoured tomatoes, fish, canned beans, canned soups can form the basis for a hearty meal, or be added to a soup or as a base for a pasta dish.

Frozen vegetables in the freezer can quickly add serves of vegetables to your meals. Some salad greens in the fridge will complete a simple meal of steak and salad with a minimum of effort.

Time Savers

  • Make A Bigger Batch.  Make more of a dish if your food budget will allow it. This will mean you can heat up leftovers the next night, or put it away in the freezer for another night. Alternatively, have it for lunch the next day.
  • Cook Extra Rice And Freeze Leftovers. Pull it out and throw some frozen vegetables, egg and meat if wanted, for easy fried rice.
  • Make Extra. Cook a big pot of mashed potato, and use the leftover to top a cottage pie. If you have the oven on to cook something, quickly chop some potatoes, kumara, pumpkin, and bake them. These vegetables can be reheated on their own or used as the basis for another meal such as roast vegetable lasagne, or a roast vegetable soup.
  • Consider Buying Healthy Convenience Foods. Quick cook rice, or fresh pasta cooks in less than 10 minutes. Look for them on special, there are many Weight Watchers and low fat options available to keep your kilijoules low, even on instant meals.
  • Invest In Helpful Kitchen Appliances. Such as a slow cooker and use it to make casseroles, soups, cooked whole chicken, baked potatoes, risotto, or a health grill to quickly cook meat while removing the fat.
  • Make Meals In Advance. On the weekend when you have time, then freeze part or whole meals to take out during the week.
  • Cook Savoury Muffins Or Scones. These can make a meal with a bowl of soup.
  • Adaptions.  Look for recipes where you can use a basic recipe and adapt it to make different meals. For example, create a meat and tomato sauce which can be used for spaghetti bolognaise, nachos with some beans and lasagne or cottage pie. This sauce can be frozen and used when needed.

There are websites available which allow you to enter ingredients you have and it gives you possible meal recipes such as Healthy Food Guide.

Make Your Own Takeaways And Get Your Children Involved

This will save you money and doesn’t take that much work. Think of the time it would take you to drive, order and pick up your takeaways. It’s enough time to put some crumbed fish pieces, fish fingers, chicken nuggets, or burgers on to cook, with some home made fries (these cook quicker if cut smaller and/or cooked for 5-10 minutes in the microwave), or frozen chips. Plus once again, it’s a healthier version of a commerically made treat meal.

Buy ready made tubs of falafel, make patties, add tomatoes, beetroot, lettuce and put in a burger bun.

Make pizzas with bought bases or use a bread maker for easy and tasty pizza dough.  Let the kids create their own flavourings.

Cook Smart!

Consider investing in a good recipe book or two which have quick, easy recipes which can become your weeknight lifesavers. This will also mean you can plan your meals and your grocery shopping. Once you have a few tried and true recipes up your sleeve you can avoid culinary chaos.