The excuse so often given for not cooking at home is lack of time. In reality, there are many healthy and delicious meals that take less time to prepare than the time it would take you waiting for food in a restaurant and for a fraction of the cost. With the right tips, you can prepare delicious, nutritious meals while saving both time and money.
Tip #1: Save time at the grocery store
- Ask your butcher to cut up meat or poultry for you for soups or stews, crack and clean crab, or cut apart poultry (for example, separate wings from breasts or thighs from drumsticks). Our local butchers are happy to oblige and you can keep shopping while they cut it for you.
- Choose cheese that is already sliced, grated or crumbled rather than doing it yourself. This adds some cost but does save time (and is still a lot cheaper than eating out)
- Buy pre-washed bulk greens such as mixed salad greens or spinach
- Choose pre-sliced mushrooms, pre-husked corn (not always available), or shaved carrot or beet (for salads)
Tip # 2: Prepare meals in bulk
- Chop veggies ahead of time and store in glass containers (use a food processor for a large quantity in no time)
- Choose one day on the weekend or whenever you have a day off to stock up the freezer with meals. Examples are soups, casseroles, stews, stir frys, pot roast, chili, roasted veggies, baked chicken or turkey, and enchiladas
- For breakfast, cook up a bunch of breakfast sausages or bacon: re-heating it is a cinch. Make a large pot of slow-cooked oats (or other hot cereal) to have all week. Make a large batch of protein pancakes: they are delicious re-heated or cold.
- Hard-boil a dozen eggs. They are great for a snack or added to a meal for a protein boost.
- Use a rice-cooker and make a large batch of rice.
Tip #3: Use a slow cooker
- Crock pot meals save a lot of time. Examples are chicken and veggies, roasts, lamb shanks, or vegetable soup. Let it cook all day and add a simple salad to complete the meal.
Tip #4: Have a salad
If you don't have anything in the freezer and really don't feel like cooking, use leftovers and make a big salad!
- Use pre-washed salad greens and add your favorite toppings such as: hot or cold chicken, salmon, shrimp, crab, skirt steak, tempeh, hard-boiled egg, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, blue cheese, feta, shaved Parmesan, avocado, beets, carrot, cucumber, olives, or artichoke hearts. Drizzle with olive oil, herbs and vinegar.
Choose one or two of these tips to try this week and you'll be on your way to better health while saving time and money.