We’re a busy family. We really value family time in the evenings and to me cooking is not pleasurable, but it is very important. I need fast meals that require short hands-on preparation times, yet are healthy, tasty and fit in my family’s nutritional commitments.
We are a low-gluten, mostly dairy-free family. We like to know where our food comes from and keep things as non-GMO, grass-fed etc. as possible without breaking the bank. That said, the preparation has to be super easy or else it will never happen in our house.
Here Are My Top Tips for Slashing Dinner Preparation Time:
1. Plan: Have a basic meal plan for the week. I’m not talking elaborate recipes- rather- Monday: Pork Chops with Cabbage, Tuesday: Fish with broccoli and rice etc. Make sure you have the ingredients you need on hand.
2. Plan to not always have a plan: In addition to #1 know that you’re not perfect and shouldn’t try to be. Keep some frozen options like chicken sausages (they thaw super fast), frozen wild-caught fish, and turkey burgers in your freezer for emergencies.
3. Cut Corners: Buy pre-shredded veggies like organic broccoli slaw ($1.99 at Trader Joe’s!!), shredded cabbage, chopped onion etc. if you know that the chopping is going to make you crazy. Buy healthy, pre-marinated meats, know your couple of easy-as-pie recipes for side dishes like roasted broccoli and cauliflower.
4. Use Spices: Food doesn’t need to have a ton of ingredients to be tasty. Educate yourself on spices that taste great in lots of dishes like fennel, chives, and paprika.
5. Know Your Schedule: If you get home from work exhausted every day at 6pm and dinner needs to be served at 6:30 then you are likely going to choose the drive through if you don’t have a plan. On busy nights plan to use your crockpot or serve leftovers. If you don’t have time in the morning to prepare the crockpot meal then do so the night before. Put the pot in the refrigerator overnight and start cooking in the morning.
6. Keep It Simple: We don’t cook casseroles at our house. I actually don’t even use the oven all that much. We use our crockpot, stove-top, and grill for 80% of our cooking.
7. Double the Recipe- We eat leftovers at least 2 times per week in our family. I often double recipes for soups and stews and Wiggy grills extra meat on Sunday evenings to eat later in the week. Plan these leftover nights for your busiest evenings.