If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. “I don’t have time to cook everything at home.” My response is “Do you have time to pay your rent, mortgage or insurance?” In other words, you have to make time for what’s important to you. And too many people put themselves way down the list, if at all. Whatever benefits people think they get from that might be outweighed later in life by the problems that develop when you don’t take good care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself does not have to take a lot of time. A little time, yes. But there are tricks to keeping your cooking and preparation time to as little as you can. Here are a few good ways to cut your cooking time.
Plan And Shop Weekly
One day a week should be devoted to you. Have an eating plan, check the store ads for what’s on sale, find your recipes, make your grocery list and do your shopping. Yes, it seems like a lot, but once you get the routine set up, it takes less and less time. Planning is crucial before you make a list or do any shopping. This works best for most Americans. If you happen to live in a place where you walk past the store on the way home, frequent stops just introduce more temptations.
Find Your Recipes
Having an eating plan is a big help in monitoring your food intake. It’s something most of us need to do. Grocery stores put out a sale advertisement of some kind every week. You need just a few minutes to see if they include foods you usually buy or something that looks like it would be good. Be especially alert for sale items that remind you of a recipe you might want to make. Choose your recipes with some thought about future meals. For example, if you have a dish that uses carrots and you don’t usually eat a lot of carrots, look for other recipes that use the same ingredients.
If you can, you can buy many ingredients already prepared. More grocery stores have a “fresh cut” section of the produce department where they have more ready-to-eat foods like fruit bowls and fresh salsa. Many have pre-chopped vegetables. Frozen vegetables that are cleaned, cut and flash frozen are often ready to go right into a dish and save a lot of time. Just be sure to get the plain kind without any seasoning or sauce.
Use A Microwave
Using a microwave to quickly steam vegetables, starting a baked potato to cut down on oven time or reheating food saves lots of time. That baked potato after getting poked and heated in the microwave for five minutes will now take only another 20 minutes or less in a hot oven to finish the cooking. There are some things the microwave does not do well, but I find this a necessary kitchen tool.
Plan And Prepare Ahead
Being organized is the key to saving time. That means planning ahead. And that means preparing ingredients ahead. If you have two recipes that week requiring chopped onions, or you want them for a salad topping, cut up all you need at the same time and put what you don’t use know in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can do that with most of your ingredients. Some, like leafy greens, should not be cut ahead of time, but if that’s all you have to do then it should be easy.
Utilize Your Leftovers
Cooking for one is very hard. It can be a challenge to cook for just two. Most of the recipes here on The Bachelor’s Kitchen Blog serve four to eight people. We like making enough for several meals, or to share. A good way to use your leftovers to make your own frozen meals. Just dish a portion into an entree size plastic container, make sure there’s as little air as possible inside, but a little expansion room and pop it into the freezer for later. When you get home from a long day at work, just put one of these into the microwave, after oping a corner to vent, and heat for three to four minutes. Let it sit in the microwave for a minute and then you’re ready to go.
Now, time, although precious, is not an excuse anymore. Treat yourself well with home cooking.