Do you desire to make healthy, home-cooked meals for your family but feel you don't have the time?
Are you frequently waiting till the last minute to decide what's for dinner and end up picking up or ordering take out, or preparing processed convenience foods like frozen pizza or a box of macaroni and cheese?
Do you feel food preparation just takes too long?
If you feel like you don't have time, meal prep takes too long and you all too often don't know what to cook Thursday night until…Thursday night, then I highly recommend you get into the habit of:
- Putting together a weekly meal plan (see "Quit Stressing About Dinner; Create a Meal Plan").
- Picking one day to grocery shop with a strategic shopping list (check out "Shopping with a Grocery List Saves You Time and Money and Improves Your Health").
- Incorporate time-saving kitchen tips to make your time in the kitchen go the distance!
If you care at all about you and your family's health then you must think about the food you eat and how it is prepared.
The only way to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients to stay on track with your health is to prepare home-cooked meals. When you prepare home-cooked meals, you literally can control your health because you control the ingredients.
Today, we are going to talk about how to make your time in the kitchen go the distance! Once you have created your meal plan for the week and completed your grocery shopping, there are a few things you can do to maximize your time in the kitchen.
Note: To put most of these suggestions into action, I highly recommend you purchase, unless you already have some, glass or plastic BPA-free air-tight containers and freezer bags to store leftovers and pre-chopped veggies.
#1 Take some time on Sunday to prep meals for the upcoming week.
I say Sunday because this is the day I do all of my meal prep but you of course need to pick a day that will work for you.
After you have done your shopping, take the time to do some of the prep work for the week. For example:
- Chop your vegetables all on one day! Chop them for soups and stews, casseroles, stir-frys or just to have ready to steam or saute. I use onion and garlic in practically everything I make so I always have plenty of these items chopped in advance. Store them in air-tight containers or in the freezer in freezer bags for lasting freshness. If you know you will be using the chopped ingredients that week then there really is no need to freeze them. This is something you would want to do if you were prepping for a few weeks out.
- Set your meats to cook! Bake a chicken or set a roast to cook in the Crockpot. By cooking your meat ahead of time, you will save a ton of time during the week. All you will have to do is pull what you need for a particular night's dinner. For example, if you made a large pot roast on Sunday, you could use it to make beef tostados one night; roast with mashed potatoes and gravy another night; and beef stew a third night. What a delicious set of meals you could have in one week just by precooking a roast at the beginning of the week!
- Cook your grains! Set your rice cooker to cook a large batch of brown rice, or quinoa or other grain of choice to use in various meals throughout the week. Having already prepared brown rice will allow you to make a stir-fry within minutes without having to rely on pre-packaged or frozen stir-frys and you are using unprocessed whole grains like brown rice in your cooking.
This step alone can allow you to maximize your time in the kitchen and put dinner on the table in no time during the week!
#2 Cook once, eat twice! Or three times, or four…
To make your time in the kitchen go the distance, always think about making enough to have leftovers. Whether your intention is to make enough of the same dish to have another night that week, to have for lunch meals, or to freeze the leftovers for a dinner during a future week, making 2 or 3 extra meals from the same dish will make your time in the kitchen become more efficient.
Not to mention, it feels so good to come home and know all you have to do is pop a meal in the oven to reheat and you are done!
#3 Cook all your meals for the week at the same time.
If you are a family who has varying schedules and never gets to sit down and have dinner at the same time, this is a great idea for you. Make all of your meals for the week on one day and freeze in individual portion sizes. This will allow members of the family to have all the benefits of a home-cooked meal but eat it according to their schedule.
#4 Involve the family so your time in the kitchen goes fast!
Busy parents; recruit your kids to help you in the kitchen! This not only teaches them how to learn to cook for themselves (you do want to prepare them for life on their own right?) it will also teach them the importance this tradition plays in keeping them healthy. Even toddlers can help, just make sure you are giving them a job that is kid-friendly, like tearing lettuce (they can't mess that one up)!
Many people feel their busy, non-stop lifestyle and their crazy schedules keep them from getting into the kitchen to cook. But when you take one day to plan in advance and apply these tips and others I have shared with you in my last few articles, any person who is willing to make time to prepare whole, healthy food can do it! You will notice a difference in your health, the way you feel and quite possible a difference in your waistline when you start preparing more home-cooked meals!
How will you start implement meal planning, strategic grocery shopping and meal prep into your life? Please comment below or visit me on Facebook to share how you are taking action!!
I can't wait to hear from you!
Health and blessings!
Randi's passion is to teach people the importance of getting into the kitchen to cook! When people get into the kitchen to cook, they can control their health and their waistline. She uses fresh ingredients and traditional foods in her cooking like butter. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercise enthusiast and rep for Young Living Essential Oils (providing natural solutions for your health).