We all lead busy lives. Our work demands have increased over the years, along with longer commute time, and the unfortunate expectation that because we have cell phones, we are expected to be available around the clock. Plugged in. Always on.
With an increasing amount of time spent meeting our work obligations, other areas of our lives start to falter.
We are tired. We don’t feel like cooking. We fuel our bodies with junk. The junk makes us more tired. The cycle repeats.
While I love food, and love cooking, I keep a busy schedule. After a full day’s work, with plans to ‘do more’ after supper, I often don’t feel like cooking.
I don’t cook every day of the week. And neither should you.
Unless, you love love love preparing each meal from scratch each day – kudos to you – I just don’t have it in me!
Many people equate lack of time to do food prep with being pigeonholed into making poor food choices. But it DOESN’T have to be that way! You can easily whip up something in 30 minutes flat, make enough for leftovers, and avoid food prep the following evening!
3 Simple Strategies to Cut your Kitchen Time in HALF
1. Multi-purpose your meat – if I buy chicken, I buy the family pack. I’m not feeding 8 people – not all at once anyway. Lots of times I prep multiple servings by baking, and then use it to make wraps, quesadillas, in chicken enchiladas, sliced up and frozen to be taken out at a later date, thawed, and put on a salad, in omelettes, and the list goes on! Ground meat? Cook a lot at once, and freeze. Use in spaghetti, soups, tacos, you name it, you can use it!
2. Designate prep time – This step is often forgotten about – but SO important. Take some time later in the week designated to prep.
I spend about 30 minutes, while watching Netflix, to prep food on Sundays. I pre-cook my meat. I make a soup to freeze. I clean and cut up veggies. I prep fruit. Those 30 minutes not only save me my sanity during the week, but make choosing the healthy option the easiest.
3. Outsource – we CAN’T do it all. Between working 40-60 hour work weeks, carting your kids around to sports, taking care of your aging parents, and fitting in the occasional workout, you’re maxed out.
There is a value placed on healthy eating, and sometimes, you just have to ‘outsource’ – meaning you rely on someone else to take over a portion, if not all of the meal prep and planning. And that’s ok! Its about making the ‘best, worst choice’ – in a sea of unhealthy choices, what’s the best choice you can make?
Its about making the ‘best, worst choice’ – in a sea of unhealthy choices, what’s the best choice you can make?
For me, it might be a thin crust pizza, with a nice side salad I have time to whip up while the pizza is cooking. It might be buying pre-cut stir fry vegetables.
It might be something as simple as a roast chicken from the grocery store, and when you get home, quickly pan-frying up some red peppers and zucchini to have along side.
A sure-fire way to improve the ‘healthiness’ of an ‘outsourced meal’ is to make a ‘healthy plate’. Half your plate – vegetables, a quarter plate meat/alternates (eggs, beans & lentils etc.) and a quarter plate grains and starches. This of course may take a bit of imagination for mixed dishes, but do your best to achieve the balanced plate, when you can, knowing that you are making the best, worst choice.
Make a ‘healthy plate’ to still make a good choice when you ‘outsource’ your meal
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you happen to choose Chinese one night. You’re not ‘off the wagon’. Don’t give up and focus on progress, not perfection. If we can be kind to ourselves and allow these extra foods in every now and again, understanding we lead busy lives, we will be better equipped for the meal after to make healthy choices.