Want to cook but simply can’t find the time or don’t know where to start?:
–> Plan ahead Make grocery lists before going shopping, and set aside time to plan your meals ahead according to your grocery lists. There are plenty of meal planning resources out there to help people who need a little creative spark. Draft out a menu when you have a little down time. Go through your pantry and fridge and figure out what you can make with what you already have to prevent taking unnecessary trips to the supermarket or restaurants.
–> Stock your pantry with long lasting/non-perishable items Be sure to keep canned and jarred sauces and pastes on hand for convenience. Dry beans, rice, pastas, and root vegetables tend to have long shelf lives and can be used to prepare meals ahead of time.
–> When buying fresh meat, choose boneless, skinless, & pre-cut meats Buying cutlets that fit into this category will save time and energy when cleaning and preparing meats. Onions & peppers can also be cut ahead of time, bagged, and frozen to last longer–when ready for use, simply remove them from the freezer shortly before cooking and allow to thaw.
–> Embrace left overs Many people just do not like leftovers, but in the words of Rachel Ray, “Everything tastes better the next day.” Instead of throwing away extra food, trying to cook just enough to get by, or giving it the dog, save all leftovers–take them to lunch with you the next day, or pop them in the microwave for dinner. Incorporate them into new meals to prevent wasting.
–> Make extra portions Pick a day that you have a little extra down time–maybe a leisurely Sunday. Cook a little extra food to last you throughout the week. You can refrigerate or freeze this food until you are prepared to eat it–it saves you from having to cook during the week after coming home from work/school, etc.
–> Prepare easy meals One pot meals are ideal for those who are short on time (Stir frys, curries, pasta & rice dishes, soups, stews, etc.) These will save you not only cooking but clean-up time. Consider investing in a crock pot, and be sure to check out Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals. I have watched her show for over 5 years, and it has inspired some of my cooking =) (She is not paying me to endorse her–I wish…)
–> Multitask You want to be in and out of the kitchen in a timely fashion, so get as much done while you can. For example, while your rice is cooking or beans soaking, chop vegetables or prepare other parts of the meal, so that you are done by the time it finishes. If you are waiting for something in the oven to finish baking, go ahead and wash up all of those dirty dishes. I have surprised myself at how fast I have prepared meals or cleaned the entire kitchen (not bragging, I promise–just attesting to how easy it is to do) Do not wait until you have sat down to enjoy your wonderful food to worry about these things.