I have a confession to make, I love to make "pretty" dishes that look like they just came out of a fancy restaurant, prepared by a famous chef. Unfortunately, I'm not a fancy chef, I'm a very busy, often harried, working mother of 2 and wife to a self employed man. Which essentially means, every waking moment of my day is already accounted for. That doesn't mean you can't create beautiful (& tasty!) dishes that looked like you spent hours and hours preparing them. Here are a few creative tips for making elegant looking dishes on limited time.
Attractive dishes all have one thing in common, healthy, brightly colored fresh fruits and/or vegetables. Incorporating fresh fruits and veggies into your dishes is a cinch!
Prepare your vegetables once or twice per week. Spend about 30 minutes (once or twice) per week chopping/slicing/julienne the vegetables in your weeks menu plan, This works great for green and red bell peppers, onions and celery. These can be utilized for fast stir-frys, omlets and more. Preparing your vegetables ahead of time also gives you a chance to properly wash/clean your produce
to prevent food-borne illness.
Prepare Salad Vegetables ahead of time, but don't put the salads together. Instead, keep the individual sliced/diced/chopped veggies in separate containers.
Cucumbers and green peppers, in particular, have a tendency to become "mushy" or "slimy" when they start to turn. By keeping them separate and adding them as you need, it prevents your salad from being ruined. If your not using the green peppers fast enough, you have the option of dumping the diced peppers into a Ziploc bag and toss it into the freezer for fast additions to casserole-style dishes.
When preparing lettuce, never cut lettuce with a (metal) knife. This causes the lettuce to "rust" and turn brown, especially iceburg lettuce. Instead, tear the lettuce into bite size pieces.
Shredded Carrots add tremendous flavor and color to various dishes and can be made in under a minute with a mini-chopper. (I purchased mine at Wal-mart for $4 over a decade ago).
I generally spend about 30 minutes per week preparing vegetables based on our weekly menu plan, so that when it comes time to prepare the dish after a long day working, I can grab the vegetables I need and not have to stop to prepare them.
Certain fruits can be prepared ahead of time if properly treated. Apples can be washed and sliced and dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning. Grapes can be washed and well drained for fast snacking.
What are your favorite tips for fast healthy meals?