Preparing healthy, wholesome meals doesn't have to be a full-time job. Nutrition Diva has 4 tips that will save you time (and money) in the kitchen.
Tip #3: Schedule Weekly Prep Time
Set aside a few hours once a week to shop and cook for the week. Having a regular time dedicated to this activity helps you get into a rhythm with this. At our house, it tends to be Sunday afternoon, but at your house it might be Saturday morning or Wednesday evening.
I think about what we’ll need in terms of meals and ingredients for the upcoming week and go to the grocery store. When I get home, I’ll wash all the fruit, and cut up raw vegetables to have on hand for snacks. (As we’ve already established, this will not destroy all the nutrients.) You might want to make a batch of tuna or tofu salad for that week's lunches. Wash and spin your salad greens. Put on a pot of soup, stew, or chili in addition to whatever you’re making for that night’s dinner and tomorrow's dinner is taken care of!
If you enjoy cooking, you’ll revel in all the simmering pots, and delightful aromas. If you hate cooking, at least you’ll be getting a whole bunch of it out of the way at once.
Tip #4: Always Cook Extra
This is really the biggest secret of all. Never cook one batch of anything. If you’re making soup, stew, or chili, make a double batch. Serve it for dinner that night and then pack up at least two lunch-sized containers for brown-bagging later in the week. Put the rest in the freezer for future dinners or lunches.
If you do this every time you cook a one-dish meal, you will soon build up an inventory of lots of different meals that you can pull out of your freezer for dinner when time is tight. (Be sure to label your containers with the date and contents.) A freezer full of meals is like money (and time) in the bank: it's an insurance policy against those inevitable times when a business trip or a bad cold make it impossible to get to the store or do any cooking.
Similarly, if you’re roasting vegetables, make more than you need for the meal in question. Cold roasted vegetables are great on green salads or even tossed with a bit of vinaigrette as a salad in and of themselves. Leftover roasted vegetables can also be used to make a quick and easy frittata for breakfast or dinner. (Check page 200 of Secrets for a Healthy Diet for my Leftover Vegetable Frittata recipe.
If you’re making rice or pasta, make extra and pair it with a different sauce or side the next night. As a bonus, cooling and reheating pasta and rice turns some of the starches into resistant starch!
See also: How to Reheat Leftover Pasta
Share Your Best Tips
What are your favorite kitchen time-savers and mealtime shortcuts? Share your tips and tricks with us below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.