Saving time in the kitchen
There are many ways you can shave off minutes in the kitchen and still eat nutritious, delicious food. It’s just a matter of having the recipes and ingredients well in hand before you start cooking, doing some prep ahead of time, and learning a few other shortcuts. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of preparing healthy meals, here are some simple time-saving tricks to help you get started:
- As soon as you get home from the grocery store, prepare fruits and veggies and separate them into individual containers to refrigerate or freeze and use during the week. Always keep a bag of pre-washed greens on hand to create a healthy salad in minutes.
- Instead of mincing garlic each time you need it, throw a lot of whole cloves into the food processor. Refrigerate in an airtight container and use within one week.
- Cook once so you can eat twice (or more). On Sunday, for example, prepare enough food for two or three meals so you can refrigerate or freeze some in microwavable containers and enjoy throughout the week (and take a night or two off from cooking). Many standard recipes can be doubled or tripled and frozen in meal sized airtight containers or resealable freezer bags. Quickly defrost a meal on nights when time is tight. If you’re grilling, prepare extra for lunch the next day.
- Stock up on ready-to-eat foods, like canned or pouched light tuna, plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt, or ready-made hummus, to grab for on-the-go snacks.
- Keep kitchen scissors handy for snipping fresh herbs, green onions, chopping whole tomatoes in the can, or removing stems and ribs from leafy greens (like spinach or kale)
- Prepare veggie crudités once a week and keep them in plastic bags or airtight containers in the fridge to snack on or to add to soups, salads, and more.
- Clean as you cook — rather than stacking the dishes in the sink to deal with after dinner, get a head start on the mess by washing pots, pans, bowls, and other kitchen utensils as you’re preparing the meal.
- Use convenience foods to your advantage – try selections of washed and ready-to-eat produce items; the salad will be ready in a flash! Canned legumes, such as chickpeas or black beans, drained and rinsed, make a super simple salad. Frozen vegetables are nutritious and ready to help round out your meal; steam them lightly to keep the crunch and flavour. Just avoid frozen veggies loaded with sauce or butter. Frozen fruits are great in a smoothie, on cereal or in a fruit crisp.
- Make your appliances your friends – Cut down on clean-up by using just one or two pots or pans or by grilling up dinner on the barbecue. You can also enjoy more free time by putting away unused ingredients and washing cutting boards and knives while your meal simmers away. A slow cooker is a great kitchen appliance that can help you have a hot dinner on the table without much fuss. The night before, chop up healthy ingredients for a stew, toss them into the pot and refrigerate. In the morning, transfer the pot to the slow cooker and turn it on—you don’t need to hang around while it works.