Healthy eating starts at home, but most people don't have hours to spend in the kitchen every day. With all of your responsibilities, time is of the essence. These are my favorite tips for maximizing your efficiency in the kitchen; they help minimize mess and time while putting healthy meals on the table. These five kitchen shortcuts will change the way you prep meals and cook.
1. Batch Cook Single Ingredients for Fast Meals All Week Long
My most important kitchen shortcut is batch cooking once a week. Focus on single key ingredients or condiments, such as grains, beans, roasted vegetables, and sauces that can stretch through a few different meals. You won't be hurrying to create a meal with some of these ready-made means.
For example, make a huge pot of beans on Sunday. During the week, this can turn into multiple meals, such as:
- Beans and rice
- Soup with beans
- Salad with beans
- Bean burritos or tacos
If you are unsure how to cook beans quickly, we have a free Preparing and Canning Beans workshop that will show you everything you need to know, even how to can them!
Over the weekend, you can do the same thing by whipping up a triple batch of grains, such as brown rice or quinoa. Then during the week, you can use them in various ways.
2. Batch Cook Favorite Dishes
Make enough for ten people, and then freeze half of it if you're making a recipe. Even if you're a family of five, you will have another meal ready to go for later in the week. This works best with time-consuming recipes that you already like.
3. Plan Meals Ahead
To sustain healthier eating, do a little planning. Batch cooking is one way to do it. Another way is to plan out some of the dishes you will make before going grocery shopping. The easiest way I have found to do that is Plan To Eat. It is a meal planning app that I have come to depend on! At $39 a year, you really can't beat it. It has an extension to copy recipes from your favorite spots online and add them to your recipe box. You can then plan out your meals and even print a shopping list. Planning your meals means you will be more organized, and you won't find yourself at a loss for what to make for dinner every night or wasting time running back to the store.
4. Prep Your Vegetables
Weekday meal prep can be a breeze when vegetables are prepped and ready to go. Instead of prepping your vegetables before each meal, consider doing a weekly batch prep where you get all your vegetables prepared for the week in an hour or less. I set aside about 30 minutes twice each week. Once the vegetables are chopped, store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
5. Keep Your Pantry Stocked with Staples
Having a well-stocked pantry will save you time, frustration, and money. Purchasing items before you run out and while they are on sale is one way I have found to cut our grocery bill. If you don't have a lot of room, focus on what you often find yourself running back to the store. Extra trips to the grocery store usually result in several impulse buys.
If you have some tips that I missed, I'd love to hear them!