Fuel your life

Fuel your life. You might think you’re too busy, too tired, not skilled enough or just not inspired to get into the kitchen and cook yourself good healthy food.

You might surprise yourself though! There are lots of cheap, easy meals that you can throw together with just a few ingredients, and you might even have fun.

New Zealand’s next MasterChef, anyone?

Confidence in the kitchen

Cooking will go better for you if you follow these simple tips…

  • Turn the oven on! If what you’re cooking needs to go in the oven, there’s nothing worse than getting everything ready to go and then finding a cold oven. Turn it on before you start.
  • Get out everything you need. Think about what you need and get it all on the bench before you start. If you’re missing something you can swap it out for another ingredient now instead of panicking later…
  • Reading recipes. If you’re following a recipe, read it all the way through before you start. Common abbreviations include t or tsp (teaspoon), T or tbsp (tablespoon), C (cup).
  • Be clean. If you’re cooking fish, chicken or meat, make sure you wash your hands after touching it when it’s raw. And clean up as you go. You’ll be less stressed out if you’re not working in a mess, and it’s way more hygienic.

Easy pasta salad

There’s so much you can do with pasta! And best of all, it’s cheap, filling and healthy.

You can eat it cold and mixed with lots of goodies to make a yummy summer salad. Pasta salad keeps in the fridge for a few days, and is a great lunch to take with you to work or school too.

What to do...

If you’re just cooking for yourself, you’ll need about half a cup of dry pasta (or a bit more if you’re really hungry). Good shapes to use are spirals, penne, bows, macaroni or orzo/risoni. Add it to boiling, salted water (about 2 tsp salt in the pot of water) and cook for about 8-9 minutes. Pull a bit out and taste it to make sure it’s cooked – not too hard, and not too soft. Put it in a sieve and run under cold water to stop it from cooking. Leave it to drain.

Toss your cold pasta with your choice of extras, plus a drizzle of oil (olive oil is nice, but any kind is fine) and some salt and pepper. A bit of lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar is nice too.

Some yum ideas for your pasta salad

Here are some things that taste great in a pasta salad. Get creative and enjoy!

  • Canned tuna, mayo, canned corn kernels and chopped spring onion.
  • Chopped tomato, olives, basil leaves and feta cheese.
  • Chopped ham or cooked bacon, mayo, spring onion and some cooked green peas.
  • Cooked sausage chopped into chunks, chopped red or green capsicum, red onion and feta cheese.
  • Canned chickpeas, chopped parsley, tomato and cucumber.
  • Chopped boiled eggs, tomato and baby spinach leaves.
  • Cashew nuts, basil leaves, chopped tomato and cooked green beans or asparagus.
  • Chopped cooked chicken, sesame seeds, a splash of soy sauce and/or sweet chilli sauce and baby spinach leaves.
  • Mayo, mustard, smoked chicken and some fresh herbs.
  • Beetroot, green beans and feta cheese.

Published: 13 December 2012