How many times have you found yourself stopping for takeout or fast food on the way home from work simply because you don’t have the time or energy to cook a meal? How many times have you told yourself you’re going to start cooking more often with healthy ingredients only to find yourself slipping back to pre-packed meals and dining out? It’s a cycle that so many find themselves in because, let’s face it, not everyone feels like putting in that kind of effort after a long day just to cook a meal for the family.
The good news is that there are tips you can use that will help you to save time cooking meals for the family and allow everyone to enjoy great tasting healthy dishes.
Use a Meal Delivery Service
One of the most popular cooking and meal preparation trends in the past couple of years is to use a meal delivery service. The way these services work is they deliver all the ingredients you need, plus an in-depth recipe card right to your door. You can then prepare healthy fresh meals with ease, not having to worry about shopping for specific items, measuring ingredients and chopping everything up.
You can even take it a step further and look into meal delivery services that offer ready-made meals. This means you don't have to do anything; the meal just needs to be warmed up in a matter of minutes. You can learn more about The Good Kitchen here, which is an example of a ready-made meal delivery service.
Get into the Habit of Preparing Meals in Advance
Because weeknights tend to be busy for families, thanks to work, school and other commitments, why not make it a habit to start preparing meals in advance? The weekend can be a great time to chop up ingredients, prepare items, and make it easy for you to quickly throw a meal together after work. You can also do your cooking for the week over the weekend, freezing home-cooked meals that you can take out the night before.
Invest In Kitchen Gadgets That Help
If you have ever strolled through the kitchen gadgets and small appliances aisles in your local home or big-box retailer, then you know better than anyone how many options exist. While some of these may be gimmicky, many will make meal preparation easier, faster and more efficient. Using these gadgets can transform the way you cook and take some of that pressure off your shoulders.
So, what are the best gadgets and small appliances to invest in? Look for ones that can speed up preparation or cooking. These can include:
- Food processor
- Hand mixer
- Slow cooker
- Pressure cooker
- Toaster oven
- Rice cooker
While these are all gadgets and appliances that will help, it’s also important that you have the kitchen basics that are reliable and are high quality. This includes a good set of knives, high-quality pots and pans, a couple of different sized frying pans, a roasting pan, mixing bowls and measuring cups and spoons. It wouldn’t hurt to do an inventory of your kitchen, making sure you’ve got what you need to be successful in meal preparation.
Embrace One-Pot Meals
Here’s a tip straight from the pros that is well worth embracing, and that is to experiment with one-pot meals. The idea behind these meals is that you put all the ingredients in one pot and let it cook. It creates less mess and hassle, which in turn makes the process smoother and faster.
Perhaps the best example is to use a slow cooker. Slow cookers allow you to place all ingredients in the pot, put the lid on and let it slowly cook all day long. That’s it – no stirring necessary, no fiddling with the recipe, it just cooks on its own. When you get home from work, you’ll have a delicious smelling and tasty meal ready to be served up.
Slow cookers aren't the only way to engage in one pot/one dish recipes; they just happen to be among the most popular. If you’re new to slow cooking, start by doing a little research online, looking for recipes that jump out at you. You can experiment with so many different ingredients, textures and flavors. And best of all, they tend to make large batches of food at once so you’ll have some leftovers to enjoy.
If you find yourself constantly pressed for time and never quite have the energy or availability to cook delicious and healthy meals for the family, it may be time to stop and look for ways you can make life easier. Each of these tips will help to speed up the meal preparation and cooking process without having to sacrifice the quality of the meals.