In this day and age, we’re all looking for ways to save time and save money. Cooking healthy meals at home can seem like as an arduous task in the midst of work, social and family commitments. To be successful at dining in more often and preparing healthy meals for the family, one must plan ahead, have the right foods easily accessible, and use time saving strategies. Here are some time saving tips to lighten the load…..
Cook it all at once. Choose a dish that serves as a full meal (containing a starch/grain, protein and vegetable) such as stews, casseroles or chili. Roast chicken, vegetables and potatoes together in a large baking pan in the oven. Use a grill basket to cook vegetables on the outdoor grill while the meat and potatoes are cooking.
Cook in bulk. Make double batches of your favorite recipes and freeze half. Use recipes that freeze well such as soups, casseroles, and stews. Pull out one of these “emergency” meals when you’re short on time, rather than rushing to a restaurant or drive thru window for a quick fix.
Pick ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes. For example, marinate chicken for the next day’s meal while using the remaining chicken for a stir fry that evening. Try to find recipes that require the same vegetables, such as peppers and onions for fajitas, omelets, or chicken cacciatore.
Enlist the help of kitchen gadgets and appliances. The following items will shorten prep time and reduce the amount of dishes that are left to wash: electric steamers, slow cookers, non-stick electric skillets, Vidalia Chop Wizard (or other food chopper), meat shears, garlic press, apple peeler/corer/slicer, potato wedger, pineapple wedger, flexible cutting boards/mats, adjustable measuring spoons and cups, pasta pots with drainer lids, oven bags and zip lock bags for marinating.
Use short cuts. Your local supermarket offers many foods that have already been prepped for you such as: pre-chopped vegetables, steam fresh rice and vegetables (without added sauce), frozen fruit (without added sugar) and fresh peeled or pre-diced garlic.
Prep produce ahead of time. If food is not chopped, washed or prepped in some way, it tends to sit in the fridge uneaten.
Plan your weekly menu ahead of time. Don’t waste after work trying to decide what you’re going to cook for dinner or stressing because you don’t have the necessary ingredients. Knowing what you need will shorten the amount of time spent in the grocery store easier and save money as well.
Enlist the help of family. Don’t try to be super mom or super dad. Ask the children to help set the table and clear the table, or help with additional chores such as cleaning the dishes. Make packing lunches a family affair, and pack lunches the night before. Having the children assist you teaches them and reinforces healthy habits.
Simplify. Invest in cook books that contain convenient recipes that require minimal ingredients and prep time. In this day and age, the shelves are stocked with cookbooks for the busy mom or career driven individual.