In addition to following quick recipes, you also can save time in the kitchen by planning and preparing your meals in advance. With busy schedules, it can seem impossible to cook a healthy meal at home each evening. But meal planning and preparation allow you to make quality meals for your family without sacrificing extra time.
Since 1965, U.S. adults have begun to eat out more and spend less time cooking. On average, Americans today are willing to spend up to an hour a day cooking, or about 20 minutes per meal. Meal preparation, however, can save families time, as most of the cooking happens at one time instead of throughout the busy week.
By taking time on a Sunday night to prepare your meals or snacks for the week, you simply can reheat the food when you’re hungry the following week and you’re ready to go! You won’t have to buy processed frozen meals or stop at a fast food restaurant when you’re in a hurry.
10 tips for meal planning
- Build a meal planning strategy that includes your grocery list and a list of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options for the week.
- Quickly shop for groceries by having food staples you can use for multiple meals. Chicken and vegetables, for example, can be used for a variety of different tasty meals.
- Invest in food storage containers that are easy to stack and clean. Make sure you have enough containers if you’re cooking for an entire week.
- Find simple recipes you and your family will love.
- Repurpose your recipes. Keep the flavors simple at first, so you can add things to them throughout the week for new meals.
- Wash and chop vegetables in advance. Mid-week recipes will seem easier with the vegetables ready to go.
- Know which vegetables to prepare in advance. Vegetables with high water content, like zucchini and cucumber, won’t store all week after they have been cut.
- Don’t be afraid to start small. Begin your meal planning adventures by preparing snacks for the week. Once you feel comfortable, start preparing meals.
- Cook multiple foods at once to save you time and reduce your utility bill.
- Mix up your meals. Although it may be easier to cook one dinner option in bulk for the week, prepare more meals, so you don’t get bored by eating the same thing. Prepare different meat to go with your salad or apply different seasonings to your chicken and vegetables.
SOURCES: U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Shape Magazine, BeachBody.com