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Homemade healthy meals are a big priority for me. Knowing what’s in our food plus savings from making meals from scratch equals one happy crunchy mama. And I really love the look on Ian’s face when I make something delicious.
Sometimes, I do a great job of making nourishing, balanced meals. Other times, I opt for the quick and easy “beige” meal, usually because I’ve forgotten to plan ahead.
By the time I try to plan dinner I’m in a hypoglycemic stupor and all I can do is stare at the fridge.
This usually costs me a lot of time – it takes me at least 15 minutes of opening the fridge door and looking in the pantry over and over again before I decide what to make.
Spending less time in the kitchen is easy with a just a little forethought, though. Try these simple (tested) strategies for making healthy meals fast and simple.
1. Menu plan
What are we having for dinner? Hold on, let me check the menu. Ah, roast chicken with veggies! Easy, right? Yes, yes it is.
While it seems daunting at first, menu planning can quickly become a sticking habit.
If it scares you, start with a week. Write out what you’ll eat – breakfast, lunch and dinner – on a piece of paper. The first time might take an hour or two, just warning you. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll love throwing together a meal that’s already been planned out.
2. Make extra
In addition to planning meals, you can save yourself a ton of time by making extra of your meals. The beauty is that making double doesn’t take double the time – it takes the same amount of time! Or you can make triple! See? Time saver.
Once it’s done, split up the portions and freeze what you aren’t eating right away. This also comes in handy if your friend has a baby and you want to take her a meal. (One of the best new baby gifts ever, by the way).
3. Prep ahead
Last week I went grocery shopping and bought several heads of broccoli. Rather than putting it in the fridge, hoping to remember to eat it before it went bad, I did something
I washed it, chopped it up, stalks and all and spread it out on cookie sheets. I popped them in the freezer, and when they were done, I put them in individual freezer containers. It’s been super convenient. (Apparently I was supposed to blanche them first. Oops). I’m doing this with carrots, too.
Here’s another tip I learned from The NonConsumer Advocate. Take a bunch of peeled garlic and put it in your food processor. Pulse until it’s chopped up very finely. Store it in the fridge in a glass mason jar. Not only does that save you lots of time, but money as well if you were buying minced garlic already.
4. Bulk cooking
I’ve read about this before and have tried it a few times. And I think it’s time to do it again. Basically, you make your meal plan, go shopping if you need to and spend a day cooking and freezing meals.
Huge time saver, especially if you make double or triple batches. Recruit your family for help or have friends over for a cooking party (and some mocha porters). The cleanup will go much faster.
And if you want some help with the menu itself, check out Once a Month Meals. They have monthly meal plans for all dietary types, including options for whole foods, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo and more. You’ll also get a shopping list and super helpful tips to get you through your first big cooking day. Win!