Eating Home Cooked Meals Made Easy – A Busy Person’s Guide

Home Cooked Meals Made Easy

What if I told you it is possible to have healthy home cooked meals in 15 mins everyday? My husband and I have been doing this successfully for past one year without any house help. I will take you through exactly how we have been able to do this and most importantly, do it sustainably. Please bear with me, because this is a going to be long article but I promise at the end of it you will have a system, or at least a few elements that you will be able to implement and modify as per your requirement easily.

My husband and I enjoy cooking a lot but ever since we moved to Philippes, cooking became something that we ‘needed’ to do rather than something we enjoyed. Both of us had decided early on that we will have try to have home cooked meals as much as possible primarily because we wanted to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes this also meant that we not only had to put in extra effort to prepare meals at home but also spend more money because of high prices of vegetables compared to takeout food which was cheaper. Plus a busy schedule only made it more difficult.

As you can see, we had many reasons to eat outside and good health was our only motivation to continue cooking at home. We knew that if we don’t come up with a plan, it will be difficult for us to sustain eating healthy food. I can now confidently say that we have successfully been able to come up with a system that works wonderfully.


I will first share few keys points around which our system is designed, then explain the different elements involved in detail and finally put different elements together to make a system. Keep in mind that this entire system is devised to save time on weekdays.

The most thing when you want eat home cooked food everyday is to work on cooking when you have time instead of on weekdays, when your job is the main focus and not. Now, let me take you through different elements of the system that enable us to eat fresh meals everyday. Please note that these different elements are all interconnected and interdependent and make more sense when put together. You can also pick just one or two elements that work for you.

Prepping Meals


If there is just one thing you take away from this article, let it be this. This one element will be your best friend in saving time.

Indian sabzis are either dry like Aloo Gobhi, Bhindi, Shimlamirch Besan etc. or with gravy like Paneer Makhani, Chole Masala, Aloo Matar etc. We will deal with dry sabzis later. For now, let’s focus on ones with gravy.

For all the sabzis with gravy, you start by making tomato-onion gravy. So what better way to save time than making this gravy in advance? The beauty of this gravy is this same basic tomato-onion gravy be used to make palak or makhani gravy. You can use this recipe for reference. If cooked properly, this gravy can be stored in freezer for up to two months without any problem. I personally make it every alternate weekend and store half in fridge and other half in freezer.

To understand how to use this gravy for make sabzi, let’s take example of Rajma.

  1. Cook overnight soaked rajma in a pressure cooker.
  2. Add about three tablespoons (good for two people) of tomato-onion gravy to boiling water.
  3. Once gravy come together in the pan, add cooked rajma and let it simmer for thirty minutes.
  4. Crush some kasuri methi on top and add some cream to finish.

Tip: Crush some rajma in the gravy to make it thicker.

Your rajma is ready. Just make some rice to go with it and lunch is ready. Now all the gravies like Chole, Dal Makhani, Kale Chane, Aloo Matar that seemed like a dishes that were meant for special occasions can now be prepared with minimal effort, thanks to the effort put in advance on weekend.


It doesn’t take more than five minutes to chop vegetables for two people but having those chopped vegetables in the fridge, ready to be cooked gives me a lot of mental peace. Let’s go through some points related to prepping the vegetables.

  • Onions – there is no vegetable that is used more than onions when it comes to Indian cooking. I will definitely insist on doing this step even if you choose not to prep any other vegetables.
  • Ginger, garlic – peel, grate and store in fridge
  • Chilli – you can either finely chop and store them in the fridge or just remove the tops as it helps in keeping them fresh longer
  • Capsicum, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower – chop and store in fridge
  • Tomato, potato, okra (bhindi) – should not be chopped in advance as they can go bad
  • Corn, peas – buy them frozen as prepping them is just not worth the effort.


Kneaded dough can stay good in fridge for two to three days. Don’t forget to add salt to flour while kneading as it also acts as a preservative. Please note that you should use normal wheat flour and not multigrain flour as it can go bad very quickly. You can also freeze the dough to use it later.

Planning Meals

I hate time wasted in deciding what to eat. It adds no value and sometimes you waste more time in deciding what to cook than actual cooking and you end up ordering from outside. You don’t need me to tell you that it is not the healthy meal that you want to eat.

The easiest way to solve this problem? Plan your meals in advance! Simple. The main point is to save time on weekdays and I promise you, by doing this simple thing, you will be able to save 5 minutes everyday. Plan your breakfast, lunch and dinner and put it your refrigerator. We started doing this a year back and can’t do it any other way now.

Now, there are things that we can do while planning that will help us save more time but we will get there. Just stay with me.

If you would like to deep dive into meal planning process, I have written a separate article about it.

Grocery Shopping

Once the meal plan is ready, we know exactly what and how much we needed to buy. I can’t begin to tell you how much food wastage we were able to reduce because of this. We usually buy grocery on Thursday as it helps us avoid weekend rush at supermarkets plus it gives us enough time to prep vegetables on weekend.

Cheat Day Meals

I am not talking about diet cheat days here. Some days you need to cheat and get by just by doing the bare minimum. Consider this list of dishes your cheat sheet for the days when maybe you have a lot of meetings.

  • Pasta – this is my favourite cheat meal. Cook pasta in boiling water with some salt, add them to store bought pasta sauce, some salt, pepper and Italian herbs and meal is ready. Easy peasy lemon squeazy. If you like, shallow fry some vegetables before adding the pasta sauce. Use different sauces for making different varieties of pastas.
  • Pulao – shallow fry some vegetables along with some spices (I like to use tej patta, cloves, cardamom and star anise) in a pressure cooker. Once they are done, add rice salt and water (twice the volume of rice) and cook for up to two whistles. Pulao is ready.
  • Khichdi – do I need to say more? Most soulful dish in Indian cuisine without a doubt.


While the world continues to debate whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day or not, I do believe that having a filling healthy breakfast in the morning gives me a good head start to the day and there are few things that you can do to get that good start.


You can make overnight oats for entire week, keep in fridge and you have breakfast ready for entire week. You can begin by following steps below but modify as per your liking.

  1. Get whole rolled oats – they are healthier than other variants but honestly any variant is good.
  2. Add milk of your choice.
  3. Throw in some seeds and nuts – I like to add almonds, raisins, chia seeds and sunflowers seeds in mine.
  4. Add protein powder if you prefer.
  5. Top it with some fruits – I usually use strawberry or banana.


This is another great option for quick breakfast in the morning once you have put in some effort in advance.

  1. In a pan heat some ghee or oil.
  2. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  3. Add cashew, chana dal, urad dal and peanut and roast for some time.
  4. Add rava and roast till it becomes a little brown.
  5. Let it cool down and store.

Now whenever you want to make upma, just boil some water (at least twice the volume of rava mixture), add some rava mixture that you prepared, add salt and let it boil till you are happy with the consistency. Your breakfast is ready. If you would like to add some vegetables, roast them in some oil before adding water.

Besan Chilla

High in protein, this breakfast is one of my favourite. Mix besan, finely chopped onion and chilli, grated ginger, ajwain, hing, haldi, salt and water. Since you can not add tomatoes (they go bad, remember?), I add some soya sauce to my batter for tanginess. Make a big batch and put it in fridge. It stays good for up to a week. In the morning, just cook them like pancake and are you are good to go.

Putting the Elements Together

Now that we have these different elements, it is time to put them together.

  1. Let’s start by assuming that you will have all your meals at home. That gives us seven breakfasts and fourteen meals to plan to begin with.
  2. You already have three options for breakfast which can be ready in no time and with minimal effort.
  3. Coming to meals, since you have tomato-onion paste ready, make five meals that use this paste. Use a mix of tomato-onion, palak and makhani gravy for some variety. That leaves you with nine meals.
  4. Make cheat dishes for two meals, one preferably on weekends so that you have time and energy to prep for next week. Seven more to go.
  5. Make sazji roti for five meal using vegetables you chopped and dough you kneaded on the weekend. Two left.
  6. One meal can be Dal Chawal.
  7. Save this one meal to make something you really like and may time to prepare. My husband and I usually do this for Saturday lunch.

Doing everything from meal planning to meal prepping can be a lot to accomplish in a single day. We therefore divide task for different days and here is how we do it.

Monday– Rest
Tuesday– Knead dough
Wednesday– Plan meals for next week
– Prepare grocery list
Thursday– Buy grocery
– Wash vegetables
Friday– Chop vegetables
Saturday– Prep for breakfast
– Knead dough
Sunday– Make gravy


Eating fresh home cooked meals everyday can feel like a daunting task, especially if you live out of India and can’t afford help but breaking down the process, simplify it and prepping when you have time instead of when you need to can go a long way in helping you in eating fresh, home cooked meals everyday.

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