Byline: Ashley Srokosz showing us how to cut your kitchen time!
If you’re on the healthy eating bandwagon, you probably know that there are about a billion different “diets” or ways of eating that all seem to have their own specific benefits.
- There’s paleo for the auto-immune crowd.
- There’s vegan for the disease fighting and anti-eating-animals crowd.
- There’s gluten free for the gluten intolerant and celiac crowd.
- There’s GAPS or SCD diet for the intestinally challenged crowd.
The frustrating part, even as a holistic nutritionist, is figuring out what way of eating your body performs best on. For example, even though I know that being vegan has huge health benefits, I feel dizzy, unfocused, and flighty when I eat it too many days in a row. My body does best with some locally, organically, and ethically raised meat at least once every few days.
I’ve heard it said that there are 7 billion diets for 7 billion people … but there’s one thing that they all have in common:
Eating minimally processed, whole foods that are prepared and eaten in the most nutrient dense way possible.
What does that mean?
You’re going to be spending a whole lot of time cooking and doing dishes.
Even though I love cooking, and consider it my own form of meditation as it’s one of the few things that forces me to focus (for no other reason than I want all 10 of my fingers), I don’t want to spend every waking moment thinking about my next meal.
In my former DINK life (dual income, no kids), I had oodles of time to spend making the most beautiful and tasty gluten-free vegan cupcakes, and it didn’t matter what time dinner was. I ate when I was hungry.
Then I had a baby, and my whole life changed. Now that 18-month old toddler has a penchant for pulling my chef knife off of the kitchen counter, and dismantling my extensive cookbook collection in a matter of minutes. I had to get creative and find ways to cut my cooking time in the kitchen, since most nights I’m making dinner solo while my hubby is still working, and my son is too hungry to wait until he gets home to eat.
These time-saving kitchen hacks can be used for any busy person, parent or not, who knows that they want to eat healthier, they just don’t know how to make it fit into their busy schedules.
1. Use a food processor:
I have a few fave, veggie heavy recipes that can take 20 minutes of chopping, slicing, and dicing. With the help of my food processor plus the slicing and grating attachment, I can reduce prep time to less than 2 minutes.
2. Do batch cooking:
Along with meal planning, which I never understood the need for before having a baby, batch cooking is the #1 thing that has reduced my overall stress and helps our weeks to feel easy and calm instead of rushed. Sundays are when I know my husband never works, so I try and spend 1 or 2 hours in the kitchen (with a super fun playlist so it feels more like a dance party than slaving away over the stove) while he watches our son.
I cook as much as possible that can be made in advance without the taste or quality suffering. I chop all the veggies and assemble crockpot meals for the week (you can also do this for an entire month, too!), which get put into a large Ziploc bag. If I’m making it in less than 2 days, it can stay in the fridge. If it’s being cooked more than 2 days away, I put it in the freezer and put a reminder in my calendar to thaw it in the fridge the day before.
I make a batch of muffins or raw vegan energy balls, and always double the recipe and freeze the extra. I make a huge batch of quinoa or brown rice that can be eaten over the next 3-5 days (re-heat them in a pot with a teaspoon or two of water, and it’ll come back to it’s freshly cooked texture).
There’s nothing better than knowing that on Friday, when I’m exhausted after the work week and know that I’ll be tempted to eat crappy fast food, I just have to open a bag in the morning, throw it in the crockpot, and voila! Dinner accomplished before my make-up is even done. A healthy, homemade dinner can be made in less than 5 minutes!
3. Use your freezer:
I hate throwing out good food, and if I keep leftovers in the fridge for too long, I inevitably forget them and have to throw out the fuzzy remnants 2 weeks later. Instead I started freezing the leftovers, but in single serving containers so that I could eat them for lunch when I’m home with the baby by myself, when my husband is working late, or when I just don’t feel like cooking. It works so well that I double or triple batches of soup, anything that goes in the crockpot, or large casseroles. Just re-heat in a 375°F oven for 30-45 minutes, or on the stovetop over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until bubbling and hot. Add a side salad or fresh herbs for added nutrients, digestion power, and a flavor lift.
These tips can save you hours in the kitchen each week, so you can stop stressing about supper and start turning cooking time into a party in the pantry.
Ashley Srokosz is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, meal planning mediator, and founder of lovewhatyoueat.ca, who helps busy mamas avoid spontaneous combustion by solving the never-ending “what’s for dinner?” debate.
Click here to get your free guide “6 Steps to a Stress-Free Supper”, complete with a 3-day whole foods meal plan, weekly planner, and done-for-you grocery list PLUS a booty-shaking Party in Your Pantry playlist.