Food on my mind

I love good food and I love eating, but the problem I once had was that I never knew much about cooking. Yesterday, Cynthia checked in with U of T’s Culinary Arts Club and looked into some delicious and healthy recipes. My own recipes used to be instant meals that only required you to pour the contents of a packet into a pot of boiling water and stir until cooked. Luckily I’ve learned a lot since then.

Making my own meals and having the time to prep and cook food has been a constant juggle for me throughout this school year. In my first year in residence, I was able to have meals served to me on a nice warm plate with a swipe of my T-card. Now that I don’t have that luxury built into my lifestyle I have had to find ways to accommodate that into my busy life. Moreover, I had to find better ways than the tempting options of take-out and restaurants.

I have to admit that I frequently ate out a lot over the past year - even when I lived in residence! You get sick of eating the same things over and over again and plus it is super convenient. I thought about it and an average meal would cost me around $10-$20, depending where I went and if it was fast food, delivery, or a sit down restaurant meal. If you average it out to about $15 a meal, that’s around $450 on average in a month! On top of that, eating out all of the time is pretty unhealthy.

Luckily, I have a few great tips to take the hassle out of cooking and actually make it delicious, healthy, and fun! I used to be afraid of the kitchen, but now I love cooking and experimenting with food and trying new recipes.

So let’s start with the basics:

The problem I had was that I never had enough time in between classes and work to make meals in the kitchen every day. The solution to that was finding a block of time in the week where I could prep for meals and then store them in Tupperware; lots and lots. Seriously, Tupperware is my best friend and kitchen saviour.

It isn’t just making meals and storing them in containers to reheat that’s the secret. I still do this, but I get tired of reheating the same thing over and over to eat. Instead, what I like to do is purchase fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese, mushrooms, lettuce, etc. Just think of items that you would put in a salad or have in a salad bar or your local Subway or Pita Pit. Then whatever you feel like having that day, you can quickly toss together to create a healthy meal; whether that be a salad with chicken, a wrap with your choice of cold cuts, or my personal favourite – nachos!

Here’s my quick fix for nachos:

Combine ground beef with taco seasoning mix in a big pot and while it is cooking, prepare Tortilla chips in a large pan.

While I am waiting for the beef to cook, I also like to prep ingredients such as shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, if I don’t already have everything prepped beforehand in containers.

Once the beef is cooked, lay it over the tortilla chips.

Then sprinkle cheese overtop. I used mild cheddar and feta cheese (my fave!).

Then place the pan to bake in the oven, but only long enough to melt the cheese.

Afterwards I place the fresh ingredients on top, like lettuce and tomatoes

You can put anything you think would go well. I put red onions and olives as well.

Lastly, I sprinkled on some black ground pepper and had an instant snack!

I also like to eat my nachos with salsa, chilli con queso, guacamole or sour cream. It only takes a few minutes, it’s completely healthy, covers all four food groups and is great for sharing!

- Danielle

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