Most people who don’t do a lot of cooking say the main reason is because there simply isn’t enough time. It’s much easier and faster to buy prepared foods, do take-out, or eat fast food. This convenience also comes at a cost, both to your wallet, and I believe to your health. Prepared and restaurant foods are often loaded with sodium, fat, and sometimes preservatives. But back to the issue of time… especially with school and activities in full swing!
If you could cook only two or three nights a week but eat homecooked meals double the number of nights, wouldn’t you? As a self-admitted efficiency freak, this is exactly what I aim to do. When I’m doing my weekly shopping, I try to think of how many nights I plan to cook. Then while at the store, I see what is fresh, what’s in season, and what is on sale and decide what my entrees will be. I also try to double up on ingredients. For instance, if I know I need cilantro for one recipe, I’ll choose to make something another night that also uses cilantro (this way you won’t use half of it, only to have the other half rot in the back of your fridge). I also think about how I could make two dinners in one night so I can eat one, and save one for another evening. Here’s an example of a recent week:
Monday: pork chops on the grill, with my roasted red pepper salad on the side (photo right). I roasted an extra pepper, plus a zucchini and a summer squash (all done on the grill) which I then chopped and used to assemble a simple lasagna. While prepping the lasagna, I shredded extra cheese for Thursday.
Tuesday: veggie lasagna (photo above)—only needed to bake it and make a big salad (don’t dress it so you can put leftovers into an airtight container and use again the next nights)!
Wednesday: Pork Carnitas (leftover pork from Monday, cut into pieces and wrapped in soft tortillas with prepared salsa and shredded chesse), and leftover salad.
Thursday: pizza on the grill, using prepared dough and the leftover tomato sauce and mozzarella from the lasagna. (When you grill pizza it takes less than 10 minutes!) There was still some salad leftover, so we ate that too.
Friday: a day of rest—we went out to eat!
With this plan, I cooked Monday, Tuesday I just threw the prepared dinner in the oven, and Wednesday and Thursday I used all my prepped items to make 2 super-fast meals that took no effort at all (and is MUCH quicker than take out, and tastier too!). I even had a few extra grilled veggies and made myself a delicious veggie panini one day for lunch(photo above)!
The key is planning ahead. I think you’d be amazed how just a little advance planning can make a world of difference. Give it a try!