One of the biggest obstacles to eating well is the time it takes to prepare well made, healthy food at home. Busy schedules can make it feel almost impossible. But with a bit of planning you can easily spend less time cooking and more time on the things you love (or have) to do.
Pick A Day
Set aside a few hours on a chosen day each week to prepare food. Have your meals planned out for the week and figure out what needs to be done to prepare each meal. You can wash and cut veggies, cook meat, cook rice, cook beans. Figure out as much as you can do ahead of time and store it all in the fridge until the day you need it that week. You’ll be able to put the pieces together quickly.
For example, you can cut the veggies and chicken for a stir fry dish and store them in separate containers in the fridge. You can also pre-cook the rice and heat in the microwave when ready to serve (if you prefer not to use a microwave, rice doesn’t take too much time to cook the day you need it). When you’re ready to make dinner just pull out your prepared chicken and veggies and get cooking. Doing prep-work ahead can really save a lot of time.
Utilize Your Freezer
Having healthy, delicious meals ready in your freezer can really simplify mealtime. There are two ways to make this work. When preparing a meal make double or triple and freeze the extra for later use. You can also do this with ingredients like cooked beans, meat and sliced veggies.
Another way to stock the freezer is to pick one or two days a month to dedicate to making meals to freeze. You can choose a few different options and make double or triple batches of each and freeze.
Be sure to label each meal with what it is, the date it was made, and any cooking instructions and always use older meals first.
The Slow Cooker Is Your Friend
No piece of kitchen equipment is the busy person’s friend more than a slow cooker, or Crockpot. You can make a wide range of meals, from chili to ribs, beef stroganoff to an entire chicken and even homemade mac n cheese. Most slow cooker meals require you to simply put all of the ingredients in and leave it for the day. When you get home dinner is ready! A few meals require you to fix a side or pasta to serve with it but that’s pretty simple when the majority of the meal is ready to go.
Use A Few Cheats
Of course making everything from scratch is ideal but not always realistic for busy schedules. Sometimes you may need to use certain prepackaged items. Choose these items wisely. You can use canned beans (but rinse them well to reduce sodium), jarred pasta sauce, frozen fruits and veggies (just as good as fresh), and bottled sauces and dressings. Be sure to read the labels and look for simple ingredients.
We all want to eat better and provide our families with nourishing meals. But sometimes we can be overwhelmed by our schedules and the time it takes to prepare good food. Wether you’re a busy soccer mom or working long hours at the office, you can use all of these tips to save time while still making healthy meals for your family.