Vegetarian for Life

One-pot cooking tips

Posted by Justina on 14/06/21 in Articles, Life After Retirement, Recipes

One-pot cooking is a great way to ensure you get a tasty, nutritious meal without spending too long in the kitchen. Perfect if you live alone and perhaps lack motivation to cook for one, or if you struggle physically with cooking.

We’ll be recommending some great one-pot dishes to make, as well as some tips to save time when cooking. You may have a slow cooker or choose to get one, but these dishes can also be made without one, with minimal effort.

These recipes are just for guidance so feel free to add extra ingredients or exclude some if you’re not a fan. Replace fresh vegetables with frozen for convenience, or if you are cooking on a budget. If the recipe method requires oven cooking, often it can be adapted and cooked on the hob if preferred.

Some recipes can be frozen if batch-cooked or the ingredients could be halved to make fewer servings. You might end up with half a red pepper or half an onion left over when doing this, so I’d encourage you to round it up and use them whole to avoid wastage. Alternatively, leftover vegetables can be chopped and frozen for future use, even added to the same container, and labelled ‘for stew’.

We all have preferences and sometimes we tend to ditch a recipe if it doesn’t sound appetising, but we need to think about the nutrients that we might be missing out on. One-pot cooking is about the flavour combinations, especially if it needs to be cooked for a long time. That means, more vegetables = more flavour.

Maybe you are like me and don’t like the taste of celery for example. If so, try adding the ingredient first so it cooks longer and the taste in the final dish is barely noticeable, but the nutrients are still present. If you read the ingredient list on the vegetable stock cube, there are at least four different vegetables in there, but you wouldn’t be able to guess which ones just by tasting the stock. It creates the base flavour, just like the vegetables that you are not the biggest fan of. Chop them in very small pieces or even grate them to disguise in dishes, too.

If you are a really busy bee and would rather spend time doing something else other than cooking, I have a secret for you. Most of the soups, stews and one-pot dishes can be made by adding all the ingredients at the same time. I am not going to lie: frying the onions until there is some caramelisation would add some natural sweetness and extra flavour, but if you do not mind losing some of those caramelised or charred vegetable flavours, then go ahead and add everything at the same time.

There are some cheats for this too. You could prepare your charred vegetables in advance and freeze them, ready for use another time. Try roasting some peppers on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, skin facing down. Add these ready-made peppers to sauces or stews. Or for a simple cheat option you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar, but it will be pricier. They usually come in vinegar. Try checking for the ones with the most black speckles on the skins for ultimate flavour. You can use the vinegar from the jar in your stews or sauces, too. These could work well in this Tagine recipe.

Perhaps you are lacking in motivation or experiencing some pain while preparing food? Here are our top tips and other ‘cheat’ options:

  • Use ready-chopped onions and vegetables. These can be bought fresh, frozen or tinned.
  • Try batch cooking so you have food in the freezer, for when you don’t feel up to cooking.
  • Try cheat options for garlic and ginger. These can be bought in pastes in tubes or in jars and stored in the fridge once opened. Really handy, saves time and no fiddliness. You can also buy frozen chopped herbs and just use what you need each time.
  • Use ready-made sauces or soups as a base for dishes.
  • Check out this handy video with useful tips on how to open stubborn jars without hurting yourself.
  • This nice and tasty Stew is a simple recipe that cooks for a few hours in the oven.
  • This simple, versatile Mushroom Medley can be served in a number of easy ways. Try as topping on a jacket potato; serve in a pie dish with easy ready-made pastry; or with rice or pasta.
  • Always cook to your abilities and your budget. There is no shame in using frozen, tinned, or ready-prepared vegetables and you will often get just as much nutrition from them. I would encourage you to try these simple recipes to fall in love with cooking again and enjoy a tasty, healthy home-cooked meal.

Please check out our recipe section for more inspiration.

For more tips and recipes, check out Cooking for One. We also have some further tips If you struggle with cooking, or if you’d like to order some ready-prepared meals, in our Veggie Meals to your Door guide.  


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