In this day and age of two working parent families, long commutes, and multiple children’s activities both after school and on weekends, it can be difficult to find time to eat properly. Even for busy single people keeping up a healthy diet can be a challenge because cooking for one is time-consuming and eating out is often just easier.
Even if you’re so busy you can barely find time to eat, much less cook, the following strategies that can make cooking easier, less time-consuming, and provide nutritious homemade meals at least a few times a week.
Freezer cooking – this essentially involves setting aside one day per month to cook and put up in the freezer enough meals for the month ahead. There are many resources for this kind of cooking, such as www.OnceaMonthMeals.com. If making 30 dishes at one time seems intimidating, start by simply making a double batch of a meal once a week and putting it in the freezer for later in the month. Doing this once a week will save almost an entire business week worth of cooking.
Salads – there’s no limit to the variations of salad you can come up with. Salad easily turns into a meal with precooked, chopped chicken thrown in along with whatever vegetables are in season and some walnuts and/or cheese. Simply break down a whole head of lettuce (or several romaine hearts) and keep this precut salad in a container or large plastic bag in the refrigerator.
When it’s time to eat, chop and toss in whatever remaining ingredients you wish (tomato, avocado, shrimp, chicken, feta, dried cranberries) and enjoy. To add bulk to the meal, toss a baking potato in the microwave for about seven minutes and serve with the salad.
Stock the pantry and refrigerator – this is one of the biggest time-saving prep habits you can get into. Stock up on extras of long-lasting foods like carrots and potatoes. Rice and noodles keep almost forever and can form an easy basis for a dish.
Keep a wide range of oils, vinegar, and spices so that you never have to run to the store to make that recipe you’ve got in mind. Jarred, minced garlic, bottled lemon juice, already deboned meat, and shredded cheese are all time-savers on busy days when you need to cook.
Use that slow cooker – the crock pot is often underused, but it can be an incredibly helpful part of your cooking strategy when you have a busy, on-the-go lifestyle. Simply toss a pork or beef roast in with a little water in the morning, set on low and it’ll be ready when you get home.
For an unbelievable, super easy treat, put in two pounds of boneless chicken breasts, two packages of cream cheese, two packets of ranch seasoning, and let cook all day. When it’s done add some crumbled up bacon and put on buns. The Internet has christened this combination “crack chicken” and it lives up to its name.
Cook the night before – if you have more time in the evening than you do right after work, prep a meal ahead. Casseroles, soups, salads, and more can be made the day before. At the least you can chop vegetables and get meat marinating so that all that’s left is to throw it all together and cook when you get home the next day.
If you’re single (or if you’re not) and just can’t find time to get proper nutrition, keep individual yogurts, packets of carrots and apples, and cheese cubes on hand so that you can grab and go and at least get a little bit of nutrition into your day. With a little rearranging of time management and cooking techniques you can still enjoy home cooked meals even with a busy lifestyle.