When you are busy, it is easy for menu planning and healthy eating to be put on the back burner. Follow these quick cooking tips to help you put a meal on the table even when life is busy!
Ten Quick Cooking Tips:
1. Prepare staple items (like chicken, rice, and beans) once a week. It doesn’t take much longer to cook a little extra of something when you are already planning on making it anyway. Imagine if you had to cook rice every day. With brown rice taking 45-50 minutes to cook, that can be very time consuming. If you cook staple items, like rice, in bulk once a week you won’t have to spend time cooking it each day.
2. Cook once, eat twice. The Shredded Chicken Recipe below is one of my favorite recipes to cook once and eat twice. It’s simple to make and delicious! Throw the chicken and other ingredients in the crockpot and let it do its thing. In 4-5 hours, you have delicious chicken you can use to make a salad, a burrito, a taco, or a sandwich. The possibilities go on and on!
3. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables for an easy add-in to stir-fry recipes and side dishes. If you spend one day a week pre-chopping produce, it’s quick to grab a handful to add to your meal.
4. Freeze it. If you’re going to make a meal, make a double recipe. You can eat one right away and stick the other in the freezer to eat later. It doesn’t take as much time to thaw and reheat a recipe as it does to cook it from scratch.
5. Keep your pantry stocked with food items you can add to recipes or supplement on the side to make a MyPlate meal. If your meal isn’t as well-rounded as you like, having a stocked pantry can make it easy to add a little something to the side or extend a meal. For example, try adding black beans to your taco meat. You’ll use less meat and fill up on beans which are generally less expensive, a lean protein source, and a super food to boot!
6. Improve your cooking skills. If you spend a little time learning how to cook in different ways, you easily know what to do with food and how you can throw it together to make a quick meal. You’ll also be able to cut down on prep time as you hone your skills.
7. Use leftovers as “planned overs”. Leftovers aren’t that appealing to my pallet. However, if I plan how I’m going to use the extra food another day, it doesn’t seem quite as bad. Leftover baked potatoes can become hash browns. Leftover roast beef can become a roast beef sandwich. Leftover taco filling can be used to top a salad rather than in a taco shell.
8. Utilize quick cooking equipment like microwaving. Cooking can be simple. Every meal we make doesn’t need to be gourmet. Use quick cooking methods to speed up your cooking time or try even a raw foods dinner with no cooking time at all!
9. Keep a list of “go-to-meals”. If you have a list of meals that you usually have all of the ingredients for, it can be easy to throw a meal together in no time. At our house our go-to-meals are Chicken Fajitas, Spaghetti, and Breakfast for Dinner. We typically have the ingredients for these recipes on hand and can whip up a home cooked meal on our craziest of days.
10. Keep a clean and organized kitchen. Have you ever tried to find a recipe or a certain cooking utensil to no avail? I know I have! If you keep your kitchen and cooking equipment organized it will speed up cooking time. You can get right to cooking rather than spending time searching for what you need.