Are you hesitant to try a new recipe because you feel overwhelmed by the cooking process, especially when hungry, exhausted and/or pressed for time?
Although you may find it easy to "make" avocado toast or "cook" a bowl of oatmeal, there may be a huge barrier between wanting to cook and actually making it happen. Cooking requires time, effort and concentration and for many people, cooking isn't worth the time or energy.
If you have anxiety toward cooking but recognize that cooking will keep your portions and nutrition quality in check, here are a few time-saving tips to make your meals enjoyable and nutritious but far less time-consuming.
- Read before you attempt - Recipes can make anyone a great cook but it's important to familiarize yourself with the instructions before even considering to cook/make your recipe. Read recipes to their fullest before starting to ensure you don't skip/overlook any important steps in the cooking process.
- Shop in advance - Grocery shopping is exhausting and can be time-consuming when you have to search the aisles for new ingredients. Many times, grocery shopping right before you cook can sabotage your best efforts to try to eat a healthier diet. Purchase ingredients a few days before you decide to make your recipe. Don't forget your grocery list!
- Prep in advance - Use small bowls or even a muffin tin to help you prep items ahead of time. By measuring and chopping in advance, you not only avoid a possible recipe disaster or identify a missing ingredient but it makes for a smooth cooking process.
- Cook once, plan for leftovers - Make double batches or extra servings of your dishes so that leftovers can be served when you don't have the time or energy to cook. While you are at it, make sure to chop entire vegetables (not just the 1/2 cup that your recipe calls for) and other foods like starches, grains and proteins to use for future meals.
- Easy clean-up - Cleaning up your cooking mess is one of the most dreaded cooking tasks. Simply fill your sink with warm, soapy water and after you finish with dishes, rinse and place into the water. If you plan to use your dishwasher, make sure it's completely empty so that you have room for big items like pots and pans.
- Use a garbage bowl - You don't need anything fancy to toss your scraps in as you cook so that your work space stays clear and doesn't become cluttered. Cooking often requires endless trips to the garbage (or recycling bin) so a garbage bowl can help you stay organized and clean-up as you cook.
- One-pot meals - One-pot (or skillet) meals result in fewer dirty dishes and often allow for lots of leftovers.
- Prep staples in advance - There's a good chance that your diet involves a few staples, like hard-boiled eggs, salad, cooked chicken or tempeh/tofu, roasted potatoes and/or whole grains. Don't overwhelm yourself with making multiple recipes on the weekend if you prefer individually portioned meals. Instead, use Sunday to prep the items that you know you will be eating the following week so that making meals is easy and efficient. One of my best tips is to make sure your meal is "almost" ready when you are most tired, busy, exhausted or hungry. In other words, cook in advance when you know you won't want to (or be able to) cook later on.
- Stock-up on herbs and spices - When trying a new recipe, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of spices and herbs that are required. But proper seasoning can turn a bland dish into something that tastes amazing. Make sure your spice cabinet is filled with a wide array of fresh (not out-dated) spices and herbs.
- Equip yourself with good food storage containers - After all that meal prepping and cooking, you need to easily store all of your items. Although plastic food storage containers are inexpensive and easy to find, many people are choosing glass as a safer, more environmentally friendly way to store food.
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