Make a list of all the ingredients you need before going to the store. Build a spice collection by picking up a new spice or herb when you shop to help you make new recipes. Pre-cut your vegetables when you have free time, use a slow cooker, make extras so you can use them later, get creative and alter your recipes and make it a family affair by involving your kids.
I don’t have time to cook.
I hear this all the time. Sure, I’m willing to eat healthier, but just don’t make me stand behind a stove. Yet eating at home with fresh ingredients is a great opportunity. Those who cook for themselves get more of the nutrients of what they eat and eat less sugar and other inflammatory processed ingredients. Cooking is also a way to save money. Yes the hectic, non-stop schedule that so many of us experience often keeps us from picking up a spatula. Well, I’m here to tell you that you do have time to cook. In fact, I’ve got 9 tips that will have you feel like Gordon Ramsey in no time.
9 Time Save tricks:
Make a list – You need to be prepared before going to the store. While it may be fine to shop haphazardly when purchasing everything processed, that won’t work when you cook from scratch. It’s kind of like trying to drive to a destination when you don’t have directions. You’ll end up with lots of ingredients that you’ll be lost at to what to do with when you get home.
Build a Spice Collection – So maybe right now your spice rack is comprised of just a salt and pepper shaker. A good plan is to purchase a new spice every time you go to the store and you’ll have a good collection in no time. That way, you won’t have the overwhelm of needing a bunch of new ingredients to just try one recipe. And if you want to get really adventurous, get some herb plants like rosemary, thyme or cilantro to grow in your windowsill. Fresh herbs will really open up the possibilities.
Pre-Cut your vegetables – Wash your vegetables and cut them on the weekend or whenever you have time. That will be a time saver when you actually get ready to cook. And if preparing your vegetables ahead of time still feels overwhelming, you can get packaged pre-cut vegetables. They are often about the same price as uncut.
Use a Slow Cooker – Just too tired to cook after a long days work. There was a time before the invention of microwaves when every family had a slow cooker. Slow cookers are great because you can cook a nutritious meal from scratch with minimal effort during the cooking process.They also help retain the nutrients that microwave cooking often destroys. So plug in a slow cooker, and cook your meal while you are off living your life.
Make it Simple – If you’re not used to cooking, don’t begin with a recipe that has 25 ingredients. That can just lead to being overwhelmed and will take more time. There are many recipes that only have 6 to 10 ingredients which is a much better place to start. Before you know it you may find time to cook something more elaborate. But you don’t have to get there overnight.
Cook Double – Think bigger than making a single meal when you pick up a skillet. One dish can provide food for more than one meal if you plan right. So make extras. And don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing day after day. Most creations will last a few days in the refrigerator. And if you don’t want to eat it again by that point, throw it into a freezer safe container. You’ve just made your own microwavable meals.
Be Willing to Adapt – Want to try a new recipe but don’t have time to get all the ingredients? Don’t worry about perfection. Great recipes were meant to be altered. Do the best with what you have. Substitute rice for quinoa. Maybe basil or thyme will work for oregano. Try black beans instead of lentils. Get creative with what you have and you’ll be surprised with what you can come up with.
Do Lunch on Sunday – Find that you’re spending $10 to $20 everyday on lunch on the run? You can save lots of money by just doing some planning in advance. Take an hour or so on Sunday to get everything ready. Even if that means throwing the raw ingredients into a glass container and letting the microwave do the cooking on your lunch break. You’ll save a lot of time and money during the week by not spending your precious free time running through a drive-thru. And your meal will probably be a lot healthier too.
Make it a Family Affair – Not just cooking for yourself? There’s no rule that you have to do everything by yourself.. Kids can take on roles that are age appropriate. A little kid might mix, or tear up lettuce for a salad. A bigger kid can be put in charge of washing and chopping. This will teach them the joy of eating food they’ve helped create. This will hopefully help them eat healthier when they become adults taking care of their own household.
This isn’t all or nothing. Don’t think that if you start cooking, that means you have to cook every meal right away. Start with just one short recipe. Get the ingredients and prepare it when you aren’t rushed. The only way to really have control over what you’re eating is by cooking. Its the only way to know for sure what is in your food. Hopefully this habit will grow into something more frequent. And with the money you’ll save, maybe you can buy something that will save you time or make your life easier in other ways.