8 Hacks When You Have No Time To Cook
Preparing quick and healthy meals should be easy. While it might feel good to put a delicious dinner on the table night after night, it can also be a time-consuming process.
When real life happens and you don’t have time to cook, there are some good tricks to have up your sleeve to increase your odds of eating a healthy meal – because being busy and stressed is bad enough without feeling sick thanks to too much takeout.
Switching to fast food or frozen meals on days when you feel like you have no more energy to exert may feel like an easy solution, but you deserve better than that! We don’t think you have to sacrifice your diet for the sake of your time and effort. Instead, here is a list of eight practical cooking tips that will allow you to prepare wholesome meals quickly!
#1. Make A Shopping List
Take some time one day every week to sit down and make a shopping list. Then visit the grocery store and purchase all of the ingredients for those recipes in advance.
Keeping a list and sticking to it saves time, money, and unhealthy food from “landing” in your shopping cart. Another very helpful tip – never go to the grocery store hungry!
#2. Shop Pre-chopped Veggies
I used to look at those bags of pre-chopped stir-fry veggies and wonder who bought that stuff. Busy people, that’s who! If the prep is already done for you, it makes it much easier to throw something together on the fly.
You can even get pre-spiralized zucchini (courgette) noodles these days, which is a total game-changer – pair them with freezer meatballs and jarred sauce for an easy meal.
Grab a few bags of your favourite stir-fry mix or pre-washed salad greens, and you’re basically halfway to dinner already. All you need to do is add some protein, put some crusty bread or pre-cooked rice on the side, and you’re good to go.
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#3. Choose Frozen Veggies And/Or Fish
Time after time opt for purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables over fresh ones. The nutritional content is pretty much the same, yet they already come chopped, diced, and ready to go. It’s recommended purchasing frozen fish to keep in your freezer for days when you just couldn’t make it to the grocery store.
#4. Make Food Ahead
Try making food ahead of time. Overnight oats are all the rage these days because they’re a healthy, delicious, and easy go-to in the morning.
A good idea is batch-cooking brown rice, quinoa, farro, and other healthy grains to have in the fridge for when the week gets busy. Use this chart for a quick how-to guide on how to cook grains.
We also recommend freezing our fruit & veggie smoothie ingredients so that they’re ready to pop in the blender when we roll out of bed in the morning. Try hard-boiling eggs ahead of time so you have a great source of grab-and-go protein whenever you want!
#5. Cook In Microwave
The microwave was invented for the fast-paced world we now live in. But that doesn’t mean grabbing a pre-made meal and sticking it in the microwave is the best option.
You can still retain the nutritional value of at-home cooking while using this gadget to expedite your meal prep. We suggest steaming your veggies in the microwave to save time.
Also, consider cooking individual portions in the microwave one-by-one. We also love making potato chips in the microwave because it cuts the fat! You can also microwave your poultry for quicker cooking time. The possibilities are endless…
#6. Double The Portions
The absolute easiest way to eat at home when you’re short on time is to simply double whatever you make and freeze half. A stash of freezer meals means you can still serve a great supper on nights when you don’t have time to thaw meat, babysit the stovetop, or just don’t feel like cooking.
It’s the best way to freezer cook without spending an entire day in the kitchen. The suitable meals to double are casseroles, pizza dough, soups, and baked goods.
And since it’s just the two of us, we can usually make a full recipe and just freeze the half we don’t eat. Usually, it’s much more willing to eat food that’s been frozen at the peak of freshness, then open up a suspicious-looking container that’s been sitting in the fridge too long.
#7. Canned Foods
Carefully chosen canned and jarred foods, such as vegetable or chicken stocks, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, artichokes, roasted red peppers and others, make it easy to toss together last-minute meals.
Always go for lower-sodium versions and read labels carefully to be sure that gluten, dairy, sugars, and other unwanted ingredients aren’t inadvertently sneaking into your diet. If choosing canned food, opt for PBA free cans whenever possible.
#8. Get A Crockpot
We strongly encourage you to cook more slow-cooker meals. They usually make a ton, create a minimal mess, and the dishes usually keep and freeze super well.
Most crockpot recipes require only a few ingredients that simmer all day and provide a scrumptious meal just in time for dinner. But you can speed up the morning prep-work by gathering all the ingredients together the night before. Assemble in a bag and dump into your slow-cooker the next morning. Easy as walking in the park!
Tip To Remember
Most people are already pretty over-extended when it comes to balancing work and personal life, so preparing a healthy and time-consuming meal just isn’t always a realistic option.
The good news is, you don’t actually need a ton of time to eat relatively healthy. Just make sure you plan ahead and keep your kitchen stocked with a few super easy to prepare the basics mentioned above.
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