The holidays look different for most of us this year: holiday parties, school concerts, family gatherings, shopping, and vacations may not be happening quite the same way - yet somehow, we will all still be VERY busy. Give yourself the gift of taking shortcuts and holiday hacks to take some of the pressure off so you can relax and be merry [because nobody wants a scrooge in the kitchen].
We are very pro-cooking around here, but sometimes taking shortcuts can turn a potential take-out night into a total kitchen win. For example:
- Grab a rotisserie chicken and incorporate it into soups or chilis to reap the benefits of high-quality protein without spending extra time cooking it. Shred the chicken and stuffed lettuce leaves with a squeeze of lime for lunch.
- Start with your favorite frozen pizza dough, add your favorite jarred sauce and vegetable toppings, plus a sprinkle of flavorful cheese to make it a meal!
- Buy pre-chopped produce, especially those hard-to-manage vegetables (ahem, squash) that are more time-intensive to prepare. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast for a side dish or add to salads during the week.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Batch cooking is an efficient way to keep up with your healthy eating goals no matter what time of year. It essentially means cooking more than what you need at the moment so you can take advantage of having your cooking tools and gadgets out (read: it’s way more efficient!). Not to be confused with leftovers, batch cooking usually refers to one component, so you can repurpose it later. For instance:
- Need rice or quinoa for your Monday night meal? Make a large batch to easily incorporate in salads and grain bowls all week.
- Making hard-boiled eggs? It takes the same time to make six as it takes to make two. Enjoy as a snack, crumble into salads, or mash with some avocado.
- Baking sweet potatoes? Make a few more than you need, and you’ll have ready the base for an easy, customizable lunch. You can also purée or mash the flesh for baked goods and use it in place of pumpkin in a recipe.
Sheet Pan and One Pot Meals
Raise your hand if your least favorite part of cooking is the cleanup. We feel you! Make it easier on yourself by searching for one-dish meals to reduce the time spent doing the dishes. Here are a few to get you started:
- Create baking pockets by lining foil with parchment, then crimping for perfectly roasted fish that stays juicy, never dry.
- Roasting your favorite protein with seasonal produce is a tasty no-fuss way to incorporate a few servings of vegetables into a meal.
- Still haven’t learned how to use your Instant Pot? Now would be a good time! You can get frozen proteins to the table fast with this safe and simple pressure cooker. A simple 12-minute recipe: frozen protein [like chicken thighs] + favorite jarred tomato sauce + a jar of olives = yummy cacciatore that will have everyone running to the table for dinner. If you use plant-based protein, like dried chickpeas, soak the dried beans overnight and be sure they are covered with fluid [jarred sauce + some broth] before cooking in Instant Pot.