We all have a million plates in the air and we strive really hard to keep them revolving at the same time. Realistically, something will drop and a lot of the time it is what we eat and how we eat. Majority of us are busy parents who are struggling to find time to cook and end up eating out, spending money we don’t want to spend. Something’s gotta give! So, I am going to share with you 7 tips to simplify home cooking. These are what I have found works for me and most of the my friends who are looking to streamline their time in the kitchen.
What’s this costing you?
I distinctly remember one day, coming home from work and being so annoyed that there was no food at home and then ordering take out. I looked at the bill and was like, “WAIT! Why am I working so hard and then coming home tired to eat mediocre food and spend all the money I earned on this!!!” Of course, eating take out is not like the worst thing to do but when you are doing it so often that your bank statements are all about those visa expenses, time to rethink. It is free to read these tips to simplify home cooking and if you implement them, you may start saving some money too!
The truth is that cooking and eating at home doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Families gathering around the table is just not about eating. I firmly believe that it is therapeutic for the family to come together and enjoy a meal.I would like to share some tips to simplify home cooking that have worked for me to keeping cooking simple and hassle free. First let’s set some ground rules!
Rule one – Try before you give up!
If you see suggestions and you have never done it that way before, don’t ignore it. Give it a fair chance! Attempt the idea and see if it works. If not, tweak it and if it still doesn’t work, then chuck it. I have so many friends who ask me for tips and then I hear a whole bunch of excuses. But you haven’t even attempted it!
Rule two – Plan to succeed or you plan to fail!
To execute meals at home it needs a fair amount of planning ahead of time. You will need to set aside time to get a meal plan together, assign someone to do the groceries and make sure someone will do the cleaning up. Majority of the time, one person in the house ends up doing all of this and ends up burning out. If your family’s dietary needs are important to you, make it a priority.
Rule three – Ask for help and accept it
You come home from work at 6:30 and then you want to try to cook a full meal. Personally, I was so pooped when I got home from work and starving. Ultimately that ended up in me making bad food choices. So if your husband or wife gets home before you, have them help with chopping and some preparation. Do not expect people to always know their role in the process unless told. Eventually, it will become a habit. You also need to accept that you cannot be everywhere all the time, take the help!
7 Tips to Simplify Home Cooking
Tools that help you save time
I use my food processor to chop onions, mushrooms, etc especially when I am making large quantities of food. To make sure you don’t blend these vegetables and up with a puree, pulse them. Did you know that the electric mixer helps shred cooked chicken quickly too! Also, if you forget to defrost your meat you can use your microwave defrost option to do the same. These are just some ideas to think about all the ways you can simplify the preparation. We live in an age where there are many options to make our lives easier. I personally will use frozen vegetables to make a stir fry or a Thai curry! Check out your grocery aisle to see what can make your time in the kitchen simpler. For example: Frozen cut green beans or a stir fry mix.
This is something that I have come to love in the last few months! When I am cooking a dish, I double the recipe and freeze a portion. I use big foil containers and Ziploc bags. These can stay in the freezer for up to 3 to 5 months. I will do a more detailed post on this process later on. But in the meantime, check this link for ideas, 20 Freezer meals.
Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
I cannot talk about tips to simplify home cooking without these appliances. Oh, how I love them! Put your ingredients into the pot in the morning before work and set it to cook on low and you come home to a fully prepared meal. The newer versions also have a delay start option! The same with the instant pot except the meal can be done in less than an hour. Click on this link – Instant Pot , if you are not sure what to try.
Spice it up
When you eat the same thing all the time, it is inevitable that you will get bored. Take a look at the foods you enjoy when you go out to eat and replicate them at home. There are so many fun and easy recipes that help you recreate these meals on a budget and quick. For example, I know my husband loves chilli, so this is one of our regular meals. If you want a recipe on something specific, let me know and I can work on it. But in the meantime, check out some Meal Ideas.
Plan to use your leftover groceries in the weekly meal plan
If you do your grocery shopping for a particular meal and still have leftover vegetables, make something with those same ingredients. Plan ahead to do this so that there is minimal waste. For example: If you use celery and carrots for a roasted chicken then use the same for a beef stew the next day. Make a tuna sandwich for lunch and use the celery in there. Check this article (scroll to the bottom) to see how you can keep groceries fresher for longer.
Plan a month of meals
Set up a meal plan that allows you to know ahead of time what is needed, this is crucial to help simplify home cooking. Half the work is figuring out and preparing the items to cook. If you know on sunday you are going to have chilli one evening, the next day you can use leftovers on a baked potato and that is another dish you don’t have to do a lot of prep for. Plan this out so that you have something for everyday and if you want to change it around you will still have the ingredients needed to make another dish.There are a ton of options out there that give you step by step instructions or even use it as an inspiration to plan a meal.
Bulk it up!
I love Costco!! But you don’t have to be a Costco member, all I really mean is plan for the things you will need and have those things on hand. If your family eats lentils often, make sure you have that well stocked as they can be kept for a few months in a dry and cool place. I always have basics like onions, garlic, ginger, etc. I will even chop some thing like tomatoes for curries/soups and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. If you are going to go run to the grocery store after work to pick these items up then you have shaved almost half an hour of time you could be home preparing your meal.
I want to encourage you to give yourself the time to implement some of these tips. Any new thing you implement takes time to perfect, so be gracious! Sit down and start of by asking your family what they would like to eat. Maybe you are all driving somewhere, pull your phone out and make a list of these. Then the next step is making that into a plan for the month and you can keep rotating as you need. So grab a calendar and write these meals down, next make a weekly grocery list for these items and now you have this accessible everytime you go to the store.
This will also help you stay on track with a grocery budget, you will know almost exactly what to buy at the store and what is reasonable for these items. Nothing is set in stone though, add in times when you can still do delivery or eat out with the family. Life can’t just be all about the expected, then it gets a bit boring. Hopefully these tips to simplify home cooking will inspire you to start your little journey!
Here are some things that can help you simplify home cooking:
*Disclosure: Some of the links in this article contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.*