Looking for some recipes using only ONE pot?
Read this article on one pot meals. This article has some cooking tips for people like me who want to limit their kitchen mess to one pot. But after writing the One Pot Meals article, however, this question occurred to me: “Why wash even one pot?” And sure enough, there are many ways you can make yourself three hot meals a day without dirtying even one pot. All you need is a little ingenuity and a stark phobia of the kitchen sink. So keep reading.
Dishes! Foiled again! One of the greatest inventions ever for the lazy chef is something I call “packet cuisine.” There’s a wide variety of recipes you can make by placing all the ingredients on a piece of foil, folding it up tight to seal it, and placing it in a hot oven until everything’s piping hot and infused with the flavorings you’ve included. One of my fast foil favorites is super-easy and mess-free. Place a piece of your favorite fish (I’m a big salmon fan) in the center of a large sheet of foil and pull up the sides a bit so the liquids won’t run out while you’re preparing the dish. Add some lemon juice, fresh dill, scallions, salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil, then seal up the foil. Bake the fish packet in the oven at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, and you’ll have a perfectly steamed piece of fish—with no dishes to wash. I know what you’re thinking: “Sounds good. But won’t I be up all night washing the knife and cutting board I used to chop the scallions and dill?” Not if you use one of modern man’s handiest implements—the scissors! In the interest of hygiene, these should be a dedicated pair of scissors for food, not the ones you cut your hair with, and should at the very least be rinsed off between uses. But make sure to cut the scallions and dill or any other favorite herb over the fish, and voilà, flavor with much less fuss!
You can use the foil packet technique to cook chicken breasts (they’ll take longer to cook than fish—make sure all pink is gone from center of meat and juices run clear), and if you don’t want them to be mushy, you can unwrap them after they’ve cooked through and toss them under the broiler (on a sheet of foil of course—no point in having to scrub the broiler pan!) to brown them. Pieces of lean beef and pork can go right under the broiler, again on a piece of foil. (Make sure you preheat the broiler first.) Five minutes on each side should give you a nice medium-rare steak (depending on thickness). Also, you can save cleanup time on any ovenware—broiler pan, baking pan, cookie sheet—by lining it with foil before you cook. (Please remember, though, never to use foil in the microwave.) When you’re done cooking, pitch the foil, and your ovenware is clean! (And to be environmentally conscious, rinse off the foil and put it in your recycling bin.)
The nuclear option. Of course, the microwave oven has transformed the lazy cook movement more than any other appliance. You can make a variation of almost any dish with just a few ingredients, a paper plate, and some paper towels or plastic wrap.
Some may question whether using paper products is the most environmentally friendly option, and it’s true that using a plastic or ceramic dish saves trees lost through excessive paper plate use. Then again, you’re not using water to wash the paper plate or sending dishwashing detergent into the wastewater supply. Keep in mind, however, that although paper plates are recyclable, they can’t be recycled once they’ve been soaked with grease or other cooking juices.
My friend swears by Quick Rice Surprise. Stock up on rice. There are a bunch of microwaveable rice products on the market that work well—though we would recommend using brown rice or wild rice, so you get more fiber. First, prepare the rice according to the package instructions, then search your refrigerator for any condiments or leftovers that would go well with the rice (that’s the surprise!). Salsa or hot sauce is a great addition to Quick Rice Surprise. Also consider using nonfat cheese, sour cream, or yogurt; any leftover turkey, chicken, or lunch meat; tuna; soy sauce; or your favorite spices. This is also a great way to use up any leftover fresh vegetables, or you could add some frozen, thawed vegetables to the mix.
Actually, frozen or leftover cooked fresh vegetables also make a great base for a yummy spur-of-the-moment microwave dish. I’m partial to nuking some Brussels sprouts and topping them with a little Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar for a tasty snack or side dish.
Containers contain the mess. Sure, we were brought up to believe that eating straight from the container or drinking straight from the milk carton was disgusting, but it can also be a very practical way of dining in. For example, I usually buy 16-ounce containers of nonfat cottage cheese. For my first serving, I usually empty half the container into a bowl (which I later have to wash—boooo!); doctor it up with my favorite salsas, hot sauces, or spices; and then eat. The only thing better is the second time I whip up my spicy cottage cheese mixture—in the container! Yes, you heard right. I mix it up and eat it right out of the container and then throw the container in the recycling bin! No fuss, no muss—just a high-protein, low-calorie snack or meal! This technique also works great with yogurt and similar packaged items. Also, if you can bear doing a big load of dishes once a week, you can do what I do and cook up a big pot of healthy something or other and dispense the leftovers into recyclable plastic containers for later dishwashing-free (or -delayed) consumption.
The food is the plate. Why do the dishes when you can eat the dishes? There are plenty of whole wheat breadstuffs that have enough structural integrity to be used as cooking and serving vessels. Try a mini-pizza on a whole wheat pizza shell, a whole wheat tortilla, an English muffin, or a lavash. A little tomato sauce, your favorite veggies, and some nonfat or low-fat mozzarella and you’re good to go. Or you could make a run for the border. A friend of mine gave me this easy burrito-making tip. She spreads some nonfat refried beans and nonfat cheese on a whole wheat tortilla and sticks it in her toaster oven until the beans are warm and the cheese is melted. Then she adds a little salsa, nonfat sour cream, black olives, and some scissor-chopped scallions on top, and enjoys a healthy vegetarian meal, with no cleanup!