10 Strategies to Masterful Food Preparation in Minimal Time

Written on 5/19/2008 by Melanie Thomassian, author of the award winning Dietriffic.com.

There’s no doubt about it, finding time to cook healthy meals has become a major challenge for most families.

Many people feel swamped with the immensity of their daily tasks, and often cooking is seen as a ‘luxury!’ The good news is that sitting down to a home cooked meal even on the busiest of days, isn’t impossible. With a little planning, you and your family can maintain a healthy diet while keeping your active schedule.

If simple, yet insanely easy ideas are what you’re after, read on!

  1. Preparation, preparation, preparation! I know, it sounds boring, but sitting down each week to create a menu plan can make a huge difference to the quality of your families meals, and actually save you time and money in the long-run.
  2. Stock up the supplies. Coming home to bare cupboards is a ‘great’ way to kill enthusiasm for cooking! Make sure you have plenty of rice, pasta, sugar, flour, tinned foods (peas, beans, lentils, tomatoes, fish) nuts, seeds, spices, seasoning, sauces, and oils. This way you’ll always be able to come up with something reasonably healthy.
  3. Weekend prep. Spend a few moments on the weekend washing and cutting up raw vegetables.
    Then store them in airtight containers so you can grab them and get cooking once the work week begins. You could also make a batch of soup, stew or casserole to freeze for lunches or dinner later in the week.
  4. Tidy your workspace. Don’t allow your kitchen to become the dumping ground for kids toys, homework, and old mail. It’s very difficult to be motivated if your first job is clearing up the kitchen mess, and it’s much less time-consuming if you tidy as you go!
  5. Find inspiration. If you find yourself lacking in the inspiration department, ask your friends for their favorite recipes. If you want something really simple and quick, try searching on the web for recipes with five ingredients or less.
  6. Delegate tasks. If your partner or kids get home first, ask them to start dinner for you. Maybe it’s just setting the table, getting recipe ingredients out on the counter for you to begin, or chopping vegetables, but every little helps!
  7. Easy up on time! If preparing vegetables and meats beforehand takes too much time, purchase pre-cut vegetables, salad bags, and diced meats to speed up the prep time.
  8. Try to enjoy cooking. If cooking’s not your thing, what can you do to make the experience better? Would listening to your favorite music or podcast help? Think about how you could create a more enjoyable cooking environment and try to implement these ideas over the coming weeks.
  9. Relax and enjoy your meal. If you normally eat in front of the TV or at your computer, set a new goal to sit down at the table at least once each day. You’ll benefit from the break in distractions and the chance to simply mull over the days events.
  10. Eat out occasionally. Sometimes our busy lives demand the convenience of fast food restaurants. If that’s the case, enjoy the ‘treat,’ but choose wisely where possible. Opt for lean meats, baked potatoes, and green salads, and try to limit your intake of high fatty foods, such as French fries, fried chicken or burgers.

The truth is if we don’t make time right now for our health, we’ll have to make time for sickness later in life!

What ways do you maintain a healthy lifestyle while keeping up with your busy schedule?

-Melanie

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