For example, I consider my cast-iron pan to be vital for meat preparation. I can cook a perfect steak on it and it works great for just about anything you can think of.
Totally with you on this. Cast-iron all the way for cooking steak.
My two go-to recipes at the moment are chicken jambalaya and beef stew. The former is from a box and the latter is made from scratch. I make huge batches of both and I have yet to get sick of eating either.
If this type of food is up your alley, and time-in-the-kitchen is an issue, I highly recommend a slow cooker (crockpot). They’re fairly inexpensive and can be used to prepare a hundred different kinds of stew, soup, chili, jambalaya, etc. One of my go-to, I-can-eat-it-every-day slow-cooker dinners is a version of chili.
In the morning before I leave for work, I put a can of crushed tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, a pound of ground beef, a cup of water (just to have a little extra liquid), and an assortment of spices: chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, sometimes cocoa powder, whatever hits the spot for you. Put it in the crockpot, set the thing on low, and when you come home and work out, dinner is already waiting for you. That’s an easy, nutrient-dense, and repeatable dinner.
You can also cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker quite easily, and by the day’s end it will be very tender and juicy throughout. Add whatever seasonings and veggies you like (carrots, celery, garlic, etc).
Go-to recipes, simple foods that you enjoy, tricks you use to get it all done, let’s hear it.
I’m not exactly breaking new culinary ground with these, but here are a couple of simple/quick recipes that I make often:
Cauliflower Puree (if you need a low-carb side to accompany your meat)
- Put bag of frozen cauliflower in 1 cup of water.
- Add a pat of butter and some salt. Bring to boil.
- Pour entire contents into food processor and puree.
- Season to taste and serve.
This can easily be “made” with one eye on the pot while you’re cooking a steak or some other meat. For example, I can cook up a mess of ground beef, then pile it on top of the cauliflower puree for a quick shepherd’s pie.
Easy Baked Sweet Potatoes (if you need the carbs)
- Put a baking sheet in the oven with a large dollop of coconut oil (to melt the oil)
- Cut a large sweet potato in half. Place FACE DOWN on the sheet.
- Bake at 300 degrees for an hour (if time-crunch is an issue, you can get this into the oven and just let it go while you do whatever else; I often will start these after I come home but BEFORE I work out, so they’re done by the time I have finished working out and showering)
Cutting in half and placing facedown does two things: one, it cuts the cooking time, and two, it gives a wonderful caramelized sheen on the outside.
Delicious Greasy Greens
- Fry 3-4 slices of bacon in cast-iron skillet. Remove.
- Throw as much of your favorite green (spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens all work) into the skillet with the bacon grease. Toss in the grease for just a moment or two, then turn the heat off and let sit for another moment or two. Remove and serve with the bacon.
Spaghetti (Squash) and Meat Sauce
- Cut a large spaghetti squash in half.
- Remove the seeds with a spoon.
- Place facedown in a greased baking sheet (see sweet potato recipe above) and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a jar of pasta sauce and dump in a pound of ground beef
- Remove squash from oven, let cool briefly, take your fork to it (google how to make a spaghetti squash) to give yourself a plate full of strips of squash, and top with as much meat sauce as you desire
I really enjoy cooking more sophisticated stuff, but that usually has to wait for the weekend when I have time to do so. The aforementioned staples of chili, cauliflower puree, sweet potatoes, greens, and spaghetti squash with meat sauce account for most of my weekly dinners.