I adore cooking. The sights, the sounds, the familiarity of my stove top. The simple sashay from chopping on the counter to tossing ingredients in the pan is a move that is ingrained in my muscle memory. I'd even call cooking cathartic and relaxing. But on Tuesday at 6:30pm as I walk in the door from work, it can be a challenge to bypass the couch and tie on my apron. Okay, I never wear an apron and I've got the stains to prove it. Still, the energy required to make an elaborate weeknight meal is often lacking at the end of the day, and it takes quite a bit of willpower to shift my gaze from the box of cereal to the fresh chicken breast sitting lonely in my fridge. Tony the Tiger and all his sugary temptation. Since I've learned that preparing the meal is always more worthwhile than its prepackaged brethren, I've taken to make-ahead meals. On Sunday mornings, I do my grocery shopping for the coming week. I also have a good round of financial anxiety as I watch my bankroll diminish with each scanned item. No need for a workout when you sweat so profusely in the check-out line. "That costs what?!?" I digress. Purchases unpacked, I get cooking. Stir-fried meals are a staple in my home. They're quick, easy, and as long as you have a flavorful sauce to glaze the ingredients with, you're assuredly left with a delicious dish. I like to cook up a big pot of rice, make an economy sized pan of sizzled vegetables combined with chicken, pork, fish, tofu, or beef and portion the servings out into individual storage containers and refrigerate them for meals throughout the week. One large wok turns into four hearty lunches or dinners. The beauty also being that meals with rich sauces only get better with time- the flavors more intense, the ingredients better blended. The Sunday hours I spend making these meals ahead of time are so worthwhile. I'm no longer halfway to dialing- in my favorite Thai takeout, and I'm content eating the home-cooked meals I've made. And while I find the simple stir fry to be a tried and true favorite by way of ease, you're certainly not limited to the wok. I've made everything from lasagna to frittata to stew. For a little inspiration, here are a few tasty Asian pan dishes to try. Fast, full of flavor, and just as delicious reheated.
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