When I traded in my days as a CPA to go back to school earlier this year, I thought I would have so much free time and that I would be cooking dinner every night. That maybe lasted a couple weeks until I actually started classes and found out that we were going to have a baby later this summer!
Needless to say, between classwork and just being tired in general, I find myself falling back into habits from when I was working full-time: takeout, convenience foods, and leftovers from when I do cook.
For me, the biggest obstacles to being able to cook are the preparation and cooking times. If I can get some of the prep work out of the way beforehand or figure out a way to cook dinner without having to babysit it the whole time, then I’m good. In the winter, the crockpot checks off both boxes, but now that we’re heading into warmer weather, I find myself not using mine as often.
Instead, what’s been working for me lately is to make part of a dish ahead of time so that all I have to do the next day is cook it quickly. Another option is making dishes with the intent to freeze portions for later so that I can just grab something from the freezer the next time I’m feeling lazy.
Turkey Kofta with Garlic-Dill-Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
These flavorful meatballs are like a healthier version of gyros. The mixture can be made the night before if you’re short on time and in fact should sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together. The yogurt sauce is key for the gyro taste.
1 lb. lean ground turkey
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. each dried marjoram and oregano
1 tsp. each ground coriander and paprika
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. jarred minced garlic
6 oz. Stonyfield Organic Plain Greek yogurt
3/4 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cucumber, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Combine ingredients for kofta in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly, making sure to incorporate the spices throughout the meat. Let mixture sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend, or let sit overnight.
3. Form kofta out of the mixture – approximately 16. Place on baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. While kofta are baking, combine ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
5. Serve kofta and yogurt sauce with pita bread and salad.
Healthier Frozen Beef Burritos
A healthier version of the guilty-pleasure frozen burritos you can find in the grocery store! Eat one now, and freeze the rest for later! I make mine on the spicy side, so feel free to adjust spices to your taste. Serve with a salad and seasoned Greek yogurt to cut the heat.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. cayenne powder (optional!)
2 tsp. salt or to taste
1 lb. lean ground beef (or substitute lean ground turkey)
1 16 oz. can fat-free refried beans (I use the spicy kind)
1 7.75 oz. can tomato sauce (I used a Mexican hot tomato sauce)
1 cup shredded low-fat Mexican cheese
8 large flour tortillas (burrito-sized)
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. chili powder
salt to taste
*or cheat and use taco seasoning instead of the above!
1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften, then add garlic and continue to cook a couple more minutes.
2. Add all the spices to the pan and stir to mix, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking.
3. Raise heat to medium-high and add ground beef, breaking up and stirring to combine with spices and onion-garlic mixture. Continue cooking until beef is no longer pink inside.
4. Add refried beans and combine thoroughly with beef mixture. Then add tomato sauce and shredded cheese, continuing to stir until cheese is melted. Turn off heat and let beef mixture cool.
5. Take tortillas and place approximately ½ cup mixture on the lower third of the tortilla facing you. Fold the sides in and start rolling up, making sure to keep the sides folded in.
6. If freezing for later, place on a cookie sheet and place in freezer for about 20 minutes or so to set so the burrito doesn’t come apart. Remove from freezer and wrap each burrito individually in foil, then place in large freezer bag.
7. When ready to eat, you can remove the burrito from the foil and heat in the microwave for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until heated through. Or you can keep the burrito wrapped in foil and heat in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or so.
8. If making the yogurt dipping sauce, combine all ingredients together.
9. Serve burritos with salad and yogurt dipping sauce on the side.