Media nowadays, geez. Between Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution, and reports on preservatives, pesticides and animal farming practices, it can seem like there’s just no way to eat healthy, without cooking everything from scratch yourself. A lot of families are considering moving to a whole foods diet – one made of natural ingredients, often organic, cooked with love, sweat and ample amounts of time (and dishes).
Imagine knowing exactly what goes into your food, because you’re the only one putting it there. And even more, imagine cultivating different tastes from the usual freezer-section variety, catering to special diets and spending quality time with your children in the kitchen. It’s a hazy, bliss-filled image, isn’t it?
It’s not one that comes without a lot of work, and if you’re a newbie, you can easily find yourself trapped over the stove, wondering if it’s really worth it. I know you’re busy, you know you’re busy – how can you possibly commit to preparing meals from scratch with so many things to do in a day? What you do is find ways to cut corners.
- Keep your pantry stocked with fresh staples. You might not have much luck baking bread if you’re missing active yeast.
- Meal plan, but don’t go crazy, and accept that in order to save time and effort, you’ll likely simplify your diet.
- To keep costs and effort down, skim the local flyers and plan your family’s meals and snacks according to what’s on sale.
- If your family goes through a lot of a certain foodstuff, buy ingredients in bulk.
- Helper-appliances like a breadmaker, rice cooker and food processor can be invaluable.
- Prep everything you can, before you need to get cooking. This can mean grating bread crusts on Monday for meatballs on Thursday, chopping veggies for dinner in the morning, or even combining all of your dry muffin ingredients in a separate container, for whenever you feel like making a batch.
- Don’t be afraid to de-conventionalize your menu. Eat pancakes with fruit salad for dinner, if that’s all you have time for.
- Use leftovers creatively. Cooking a roast on Sunday might yield you sandwiches on Monday and stir-fry on Tuesday.
- Precook bulk amounts of meats and freeze them for easy meal making. You can cook nearly any kid of meat or poultry and then store it in recipe-sized portions.
- Experiment with recipes, all the time! Add your own fresh herbs and spices. Try pulverizing fresh cherry tomatoes in your Cuisinart, instead of the canned variety.
- Identify the big-ticket snacks and learn how to make your own (healthier) version of them.
- Plan baking ahead of time, in accordance with your family’s schedule and demand. If you bake a week’s worth of bread, muffins and cupcakes on a lazy Sunday, you’re ahead of the game.
- Remember: it takes less effort to double a recipe and freeze the extras, than to make it twice in a week.