Preparing healthy homemade meals doesn’t have to take lots of time or energy. Below are 11 kitchen time savers for how to make cooking easier.
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Busy work schedules, family life, struggling with chronic illness or simply having no cooking experience can make it easy for us to feel we don’t have the time, energy or skills needed to cook healthy meals and snacks from scratch at home and instead turn to processed store bought ready meals. However, there are food prep hacks, meal prep hacks and cooking hacks that save time in the kitchen, allowing us to quickly and easily make healthy homemade recipes.
11 time saving kitchen tips
1). Plan meals in advance
Make a time each week to prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week. This saves you time and energy having to think of meals each day and makes composing a grocery list easier. It also ensures you’ll have the necessary ingredients each day to prepare the meals you planned.
2). Select recipes that are quick to make
You can find lots of recipes online which are quick to make. I try to select recipes which are:-
- Quick to make, in 30 minutes or less,
- Easy, with a small number of steps in the cooking process and,
- Use as few pieces of equipment as possible to save time and energy on the washing up after.
Quick and easy recipes made in 30 minutes or less
- Smoothie bowls, like this Immune Boosting Chaga Berry Smoothie Bowl, which are made in just 5 minutes by simply blending all the ingredients in a food processor.
- This Grain Free Porridge, uses diced apples and pears instead of oats. It doesn’t require any cooking or baking, making it quicker to prepare than traditional porridge.
- This Healthy Oven Baked Chocolate Pancake is made with nutritious ingredients in just 15 minutes. Baking the pancake in the oven, rather than in a frying pan as traditionally done, makes them quicker and easier to prepare. It also allows you to make a large batch in one go without standing over a hot stove flipping each one.
Lunch & Dinner Recipes
- This Rainbow Nourish Bowl is made in just 20 minutes. Simply place all the ingredients in a steamer to cook and then serve in a bowl topped with a dressing.
- This Root Vegetable Soup is a nutrient dense, filling and comforting meal, which is easily made in 30 minutes. Soups are a great example of a one pot meal, limiting the amount of washing up after.
- This Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto replaces rice with celeriac diced into rice sized pieces. This simple food swap allows you to make this meal in just 25 minutes, half the time of traditional risottos.
- This Sprouted Buckwheat Salad is made in just 15 minutes and is a healthy, light refreshing meal, requiring no cooking.
- Wild Blueberry and Lemon Healthy Bliss Balls are the perfect quick and easy snack or dessert. They’re made in just 5 minutes by simply blending the ingredients together in a food processor and rolling them into balls.
- Healthy Oven Baked Chocolate Pancake.
3). Buy groceries online or have someone do food shopping for you
If you don’t have someone who can do food shopping for you, then buying groceries online saves you having to schedule going to the shops each week. It also saves you time and energy walking round stores and carrying heavy bags home and back to the car.
Shopping online allows you to set up a regular delivery slot. This means you will always have a supply of food arriving, even if you forget to check your order one week or don’t have the energy to go to the shops yourself.
4). Keep a running grocery list
Have a grocery list in your kitchen that is easily visible and accessible that you and your family can update when you use the last of a food or ingredient. You can then use this list when composing shopping lists each week to ensure you’ll be stocked up on these foods after your next food shop or food delivery. This prevents you having to schedule additional trips or online deliveries if you open your cupboards and find you don’t have the necessary ingredients one day for the meal you planned to make.
5). Buy in bulk
The following foods have a long shelf life and so can be bought in bulk:-
- Frozen fruit and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains and flours (oats, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth etc.)
- Beans and legumes
- Dried herbs and spices
Buying in bulk is cheaper and reduces the times and energy you have to spend each week composing a shopping list. It also makes food shops and online deliveries quicker as you only have to focus on purchasing fresh produce each week .Just make sure to utilise your running grocery list to ensure you stock up again when you run out of each food!
6). Buy pre chopped and ready to eat foods
Pre chopped foods like fruit, vegetables and nuts might cost a bit more money but it makes the preparation process so much easier as the foods are ready to be used straight away. This is especially great if you don’t have the strength to peel, chop and grate foods yourself. I avoid ready meals, microwave meals and tinned foods due to the added sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and artificial additives, preservatives and emulsifiers, which can have a negative impact on health and worsen chronic illness symptoms. However, the following foods are free from these ingredients and are great food prep tips:-
- Buy dried herbs and spices, which are ready to be added to meals straight away, rather than fresh, which require you to chop them.
- Beans and legumes can be bought in cartons ready to eat.
- Tinned fish can be bought pre cooked ready to eat – just ensure it’s stored in water only and not oil and brine, like:-
- Fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables can be bought pre chopped.
- Vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potato, can be bought in rice sized pieces as a great grain free alternative to rice.
- Vegetables like butternut squash can be bought pre spiralised in noodle and spaghetti form.
7). Use technology
There’s technology for everything these days. Kitchen appliances are great food prep hacks. The following pieces of equipment save you energy having to do tasks manually:-
- Food processor (UK Link/US Link) allows you to chop, grate and shred vegetables, mash potatoes, mix doughs and make sauces and dips within seconds.
- Blender (UK Link/US Link) or immersion hand blender (UK Link/US Link) to make soups and sauces.
- Mandolin (UK Link/US Link) to slice, dice and chop vegetables into fries.
- Electronic can opener (UK Link/US Link),
- Electronic citrus juicer (UK Link/US Link),
- Pressure cooker (UK Link/US Link). This is a great tip for how to save time cooking as it reduces the total cooking time by up to a third. This is especially beneficial for risottos, which traditionally require you to stand over a hot stove regularly adding stock and stirring the dish.
- Slow cookers (UK Link/US Link) allow you to prep dinner in the morning so it’s ready to serve in the evening, without any additional time or effort required.
Slow cookers, along with steamers, rice cookers and pressure cookers require you to simply put all the ingredients in the appliance, then you can sit back and relax while the food cooks. They’re great energy saving alternatives to sautéing and frying foods, which require you to stand over a hot stove stirring. They’re especially great during the summer when temperatures are hotter. Cooking on the hob radiates a lot of heat around the kitchen, whereas when using appliances, most of the heat is retained inside them, helping to keep the temperature of the kitchen cooler.
8). Eat raw foods
The following foods can be eaten raw without any cooking:-
- All fruit,
- All nuts and seeds,
- Many vegetables, like asparagus, celeriac, courgette, celery, fennel, beetroot, carrot, sugar snap peas, cabbage and dark leafy greens.
This significantly reduces the time taken to prepare meals as all you need to do is peel if needed, chop or grate them and then serve straight away, like in this Sprouted Buckwheat Pesto Salad. Like using appliances, this is especially beneficial during the summer months, as raw foods help keep us cooler, with cooked foods increasing our body temperature after eating them.
9). Soak grains, beans and legumes before cooking
Soaking grains, beans and legumes can reduce the cooking time in some cases by up to a half. Not only is soaking them a great time saving cooking tip but it also:-
- Helps remove anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients make the foods difficult to digest, can damage the gut and bind to nutrients preventing our bodies absorbing them,
- Increases the vitamin, mineral, fibre and protein content of the foods,
- Increases digestive enzyme content, making them easier to digest,
- Increases the amount of nutrients our bodies absorb.
Those with illness like dysautonomia and POTS are not able to stand for long periods of time. Having a kitchen stool/seat allows you to cook using less energy and reduces the fatigue experienced after.
11). Meal Prep & Cook in bulk
Fruit, dried fruit, nuts and seeds don’t require any prep or cooking and can be divided into portions in containers to prepare snacks for the whole week.
For main meals, the total cooking time whether making one portion or seven portions of a meal is similar. This means you can cook once and have meals prepared for an entire week. Therefore, make the most of the occasions when you have time and energy and batch cook.
Lots of food, like steamed and roasted vegetables, soups, stews, curries and Bolognese’s can be left to cool completely, stored in glass containers the fridge for up to 2-3 days or frozen in freezer safe glass containers for up to 2 months and then defrosted and reheated quickly until they reach a temperature of least 165°F or 74°C for use later (1, 2). Label each container with the name of the meal and date frozen so you know when to use it by.
If you don’t want to have the same meals to eat during the week, you can batch cook individual ingredients and use them to produce different meals. For example, cook beans, legumes, grains and vegetables in a large batch and then combine them in various ways to produce salads, or reheat them to make stews, curries, risottos, hashes or traybakes.
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I hope these tips for how to make cooking easier are helpful. What kitchen tips and tricks do you have? Are there are food prep tips, baking hacks and time saving cooking tips I’ve missed? I’d love to hear any additional time saving kitchen tips you have. Drop me a message below or message me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & YouTube and also use the hashtag #lbhealthandlifestyle.