One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is that they don’t like to cook, don’t know how to cook or simply don’t want to deal with it all. I was once one of those people as well. I feared real food (hence living off fake “diet” food) and cooking to me consisted of heating up low-cal, fat-free frozen meals in the microwave. Not really a recipe to success. Put pure and simple, I felt extremely uncomfortable in the kitchen mostly because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Cooking, especially healthy cooking was foreign to me; it just seemed “too hard.”
Once I began eating healthier and fueling my body with real food (you know, the kind that doesn’t come from a box), my relationship with my kitchen (and food for that matter) began to improve. I quickly realized that the whole healthy eating thing doesn’t have to be so darn difficult after all, that it’s in fact quite simple when you do it right. It was a process of course with lots of trial and error, but over time I slowly began to fall in love with cooking. Eventually my kitchen became a place of joy rather than a chaotic, packaged-food-laden “dungeon.”
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have the time nor patience to deal with healthy food, you’ve come to the right place! Here are 6 little ways to save time (and your sanity) in the kitchen.
1. Buy in Bulk: You know those times when you have your mind set on dinner, only to find out…dun dun dun…you’re all out of The Most Important Ingredient? It’s no wonder cooking wholesome meals for yourself is a hassle! Buying in bulk prevents that from happening, while saving you the headache and time. A bonus? You can also save money this way for healthy living on a budget. Some of my favorite things to buy in bulk are whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice and rolled oats), nuts & seeds, beans (such as dried chickpeas and black beans), large packs of organic chicken and fish when on sale and broths. Check to see if your local grocery store has a bulk bin, and be on the lookout for daily specials!
2. Pre-Chop, Slice & Dice: Part of the reason people hate cooking and experimenting with food is the prep work involved. If you’re considering a salad for lunch then think about all of the extra chopping you’ll have to do, suddenly that PB & J or leftover piece of pizza is looking mighty fine. I like to do all the prep work ahead of time to stay ahead of the game. Right when you get home, aim to chop, slice and dice any fruits and veggies you know you’ll be using for future recipes. Produce like onions, peppers, celery and strawberries are especially convenient when pre-chopped. Just grab and go!
3. Pack Your Bag The Night Before: Remember when you were a little kid and mom packed your lunch box the night before school? Why not do the same as an adult? Plan ahead and prepare your lunch the evening before to prevent a last-minute morning crisis. Planning ahead keep you calm and sane in the kitchen, especially when you have little ones to take care of as well! Plus, you won’t have to rely on fast food or vending machine options while at work.
4. Cook Ahead: Just as I recommend to chop and plan ahead, cooking ahead is also a major time-saver. Once you get home from the grocery store, take inventory on what you have in the fridge and get cooking right away! This includes hard-boiling eggs for easy snacking, boiling up some chicken for that killer chicken salad recipe you have or even making all your stews, soups and casseroles for done-for-you family dinners. Think how nice is would be to come home with dinner already made! Pretty enticing, huh?
5. Put Leftovers to Use: Don’t be ashamed of putting leftovers to use! If you have leftovers from dinner, simply eat it again for lunch the next day. Also, play around with your leftovers to create new & improved meals out of them. For instance, if you’ve got leftover vegetables from a stir-fry, incorporate into a veggie rice wrap or mix into your morning omelet! Got extra turkey burger hanging around from last night’s turkey meatballs? Use for a marinara sauce or add to a soup or stew. Be creative with your dishes.
6. Do it Your Way: Above all, know there is no “right” way. Do what works for you! If a recipe calls for barley and all you have is brown rice, change it up. If you’ve got a plethora of asparagus in the house, nix the usual broccoli and make use of your green spears. Don’t be afraid to take chances, mess up or try something new. That’s what healthy cooking is all about!
Does cooking stress you out? What do you struggle with most in the kitchen? If this sounds like you, be sure to check out my brand new “Food Stress to Success” 28-Day Jumpstart” over on Heathy Chicks. Sign up for your FREE 15-minute info session today!