HelloFresh Head Chef Shares Easy Recipes for When You Have No Time to Cook at Home

mexican tortilla wrap with chicken breast and vegetables

Mexican tortilla wrap | iStock.com/OlgaMiltsova

A new study conducted by HelloFresh found millennial homebuyers consider the kitchen the most important room in the home. This is because many (53%) feel a house truly becomes a home when they cook their first meal there. Furthermore, about three-quarters of millennial homebuyers (76%) are cooking or making meals at home at least once a day and close to half (47%) would like to cook at home more often. But what if you don’t have time to cook? How can you get that comforting feeling that comes with a home-cooked meal?

The Cheat Sheet spoke with Claudia Sidoti, head chef and recipe developer at HelloFresh, to learn how to prepare quick, healthy meals when you have little time to cook at home.

The Cheat Sheet: What are some easy meals you can make if you’re new to cooking? Could you share one or two recipes?

Claudia Sidoti: A basic technique and recipe that every home cook should learn is how to roast vegetables. While steamed veggies may not appeal to everyone, roasting them will turn up the flavor in just a few simple steps. This recipe can be applied to almost any vegetable. Some of my favorites include broccoli, cauliflower, sliced zucchini, carrots, asparagus, and green beans, to name just a few! The same recipe can also be applied to sliced potatoes to make healthier homemade fries. Here is a quick, simple, and delicious side dish for any meal:

Roasted Vegetables

roasted vegetable medley in a bowl

Roasted vegetables | iStock.com

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup. Spread your vegetable of choice out evenly on the pan. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and other spices of choice (onion powder and garlic powder are always a good choice). Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy.

Another one of my favorite quick and easy meals for cooking newbies is flatbread pizza. They’re a healthier twist on a takeout staple, and once you get the base down, they can easily be customized with toppings for taste preferences. Plus, there’s an element of fun in making your own pizza. Here’s a recipe for chicken sausage pizzas with broiled zucchini and fresh oregano:

Chicken Sausage Pizzas with Broiled Zucchini and Fresh Oregano

Pizza | Source: iStock

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • ¼ ounce oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 9 ounces sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • 2 flatbreads
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  • Wash and dry all produce. Preheat broiler to high or oven to 500 degrees. Slice zucchini into ½-inch-thick rounds. Pick oregano leaves from stems; discard stems. Roughly chop leaves. Place zucchini on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper, and ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Place under broiler and broil until softened and browned, for five to seven minutes. (TIP: Keep an eye on the zucchini—it can burn.) Remove sheet from broiler, then adjust oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium to high heat. Remove sausage from casings; discard casings. Add sausage to pan along with half the oregano, breaking up meat into pieces. Cook, tossing until browned and no longer pink, for four to six minutes. Remove pan from heat.
  • Place flatbreads on another lightly oiled baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of tomatoes across the tops of the flatbreads (we used half the box). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning (you’ll have some left over). Scatter evenly with mozzarella, then follow with sausage and zucchini.
  • Bake pizzas in oven until flatbreads are golden brown at the edges and cheese is melted, for four to six minutes. Scatter remaining oregano over pizzas (to taste), then cut pizzas into slices and serve.

The Cheat Sheet: Where can those new to cooking learn how to make healthy meals?

Claudia Sidoti: Start with the basics! While the internet is an endless resource for cooking tips, using a meal kit like HelloFresh is a great intro to cooking, teaching basic techniques and applying them in a variety of recipes so you won’t get bored eating the same thing over and over again. Once home cooks have the basic skills and techniques under their belt, they’ll see how they can easily apply them to their favorite foods and ingredients.


The Cheat Sheet: What are some foods that are healthy but can also be eaten on the go if you’re a busy, working professional and don’t have time to cook?

Claudia Sidoti: Meal prep is a great way for busy people to organize themselves. A little extra time on the front end cuts down on time throughout the week. It also saves money because you know exactly what you’re making and preparing for and don’t overbuy without a plan. Some versatile ingredients meal preppers should always have in the fridge or pantry include:

  • Beans: A great source of protein and affordable and versatile
  • Quick-cooking grains: These include quinoa and couscous for fast grain bowls and salads
  • A go-to salad dressing /marinade
  • Canned diced tomatoes: Great for a quick pasta sauce, chilis, and soups

Burrito bowls are among my favorite “grab and go” meals. They’re fairly simple, store easily, and reheat well. When looking for something lighter, I’m a big fan of a chopped salad loaded with chicken breast or salmon and tons of veggies. I keep the dressing on the side and toss before eating. Cold dishes like tuna and chicken salads are great. They’re ideal for sandwiches and salads and are a good source of protein. Bulking them up with extra veggies is good too if you want to keep it on the healthier side and add fiber.

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