Let's face it. We're all busy. And we all need to eat. Here are some tips for getting real food on the table.
1. Meal Plan
A mentor once said to me, "Fail to plan? Then plan to fail." The adage is especially true when it come to getting real food in your belly. If I spend 10-15 minutes once a week thinking through our meals, the dividends are priceless. Grocery shopping is easier because I have a list. There is less stress during the week because I have a plan at dinner time (or the hours before) - a plan that does not include a "quick trip to get that one thing."
Usually, if my dinner meal isn't mostly prepared by noon, we aren't having anything to rave about for dinner. I'm a mom of little children and we are all tired and needy during the dinner hour (as well as the few hours prior). It has become my habit to begin dinner as I am cleaning up from breakfast. Depending on the meal, I may chop here and there, wash a few dishes, stir the pot, etc. and eventually dinner lands on the table after several hours. They aren't continual or stressful hours.
If you aren't a homemaker, just five minutes of prep (or chopping) before work can help. Set out bowls or other equipment you will need once home from work.
3. Use the weekends to get a jump start on the week.
Normally Sunday night is when I meal plan and grocery shop. Sometimes on Saturdays I will have a marathon cooking day - mostly because Hubby is home to help meet the needs of our little children. But you don't have to sacrifice your entire weekend for the sake of food. Doing small chores can reap huge gains. For example, recently, I peeled and chopped two butternut squash and stuck it all in the fridge for later meals. I didn't even use the squash that day. I had a bit of extra time in the kitchen so I took advantage of it. Other things I might do in advance are:
- soak and cook several pounds of beans (freeze in smaller portions)
- roast and debone two whole chickens (freezing some meat in smaller portions)
- make broth from the above chickens (freeze extra in smaller portions)
- brown two pounds of ground beef instead of one.
- chop several onions or other veggies all at once.
- cook a double portion of rice (depends on your meal plan for the week, I don't freeze rice).
- wash/chop greens
- roast several sweet potatoes at once (or more than one dinner's worth of veggies)
You are more likely to eat veggies if they are prepared and waiting to be cooked.
4. Double a recipe and freeze half.
If you're going through the motions and mess to make a meal, why not double the ingredients and save yourself time in the kitchen? Some recipes that I have doubled and work well to freeze:
- beef tips and rice
- beef or chicken enchiladas
- chicken pot pie
- curried chicken
- red beans and rice
- soup of all kinds!
5. Use a crock pot.
Do I need to convince anyone? Find some recipes you like and put them in your rotation. This blog is dedicated to slow cooking.
6. KISS = Keep it Simple, Silly.
I'm preaching to myself here. If I'm going to regularly put real food on my table, I need to keep it simple. Save gourmet for special occasions.
Cheering you on towards real food,