I’ve been recently inspired by someone to figure out quick ways to get a delicious and healthy meal on the table in a short time and with limited prep. Sometimes we need to get things done as easily and quickly as possible due to time constraints, physical health/ability and a number of other stumbling blocks. If you too are looking for easier meal prep, then you’re at the right place.
I like to cook. I enjoy hosting dinners that take longer prep than usual, but on a day-to-day basis, I like quick and easy meals that are healthy. I can typically get a meal on the table in 20-40 minutes from start to finish. Cutting vegetables, pulling out all the ingredients needed, including spices, and washing any vegetables used is included in the start to finish time. Cleaning, slicing and dicing takes a bit of time and adds to your need to stand up and stay focused. If you can only stand for a limited time for whatever reason, don’t quit, try a few of the following tips on ways to get stuff done the best way you can.
Before your week begins, make a list of meals you would like to have for the week. List the items you will need to make those meals and either shop for them yourself or ask someone close to shop for you; others will likely be happy to pick up your items while they shop for themselves.
Each day you can prepare the day’s meal or you can prep ahead of time if your time allows. Make things easiest for yourself by setting up a space for you to do the prep work. Set up a spot at your counter or if you need to sit and work, set up your space at the table. Keep cutting boards, knives, peelers, paper towels, a scrap bowl, and other bowls needed to hold the foods you prep close to the table in a bin or basket so they will always be at hand. Keep another basket or small bin in the kitchen, preferably by the refrigerator, to gather the items you will need to bring to your work space at the counter or table. Remember, less work to start with means a shorter time in the kitchen.
When you have your foods prepped as needed, either store them in the refrigerator until needed or right by the stove if you’re cooking immediately. Another helpful habit is to put your spices in a convenient spot and organized so that you can find them quickly. Keep them close to your cooking area if you can or at least keep a basket, handy little things that they are, of your most used spices close by.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love one dish meals; I can’t say why I like them best, maybe for the simple reason that you can add so much goodness into one pan and stretch your goods to feed many? The biggest advantage of casseroles, one pot stews and soups is the healthy goodness that you can add too your heart’s desire; well, that and leftovers! Leftovers are great for your next day’s lunch, another dinner or to freeze and stock up for a later time when you don’t want to cook or just don’t have items on hand or time or energy to cook.
Additionally, if it makes life easier for you to buy produce that has been sliced, diced and chopped for your convenience, by all means buy it; something is better than nothing!
Remember, the key is to make cooking as simple for yourself as possible. Having a plan ahead of time is crucial to having it work out in your favor. Also, make more than you need for one meal so you can freeze some to enjoy for a later date. Less work makes more time for you!
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