Finding Time to Cook

This post originally appeared on Families.com

When life gets busy, cooking at home is usually one of the first things to go. It is tough to find the time to cook, when there is work, school, kids activities, etc., isn’t it? Eating out becomes the normal thing to do. Unfortunately, eating out can be both expensive and unhealthy, especially if it is continued over time. Because of these two facts, effort must be made to do most of the cooking at home. So where do we find the time to cook?

Track the Time Commitment

Eating out can actually take more time than you think, unless you are on an all-drive-thru diet. The next time you do eat out, track the time it takes, from the moment you get in the car to the moment your meal is actually served. You might be surprised. If it takes more than 15 minutes total (oh, and add in the travel time back to your home), then you may actually be spending more time eating out than you would cooking at home since there are a plethora of recipes out there that require only 15 minutes or less.

Get the Kids Involved

Many hands make light work, so get the whole family involved in preparing the meal. It will give you all a chance to be together, too, reinforcing family bonds. Give each member of the family at least one task, even if it is just pouring frozen vegetables into a dish before microwaving.

Use Simple Ingredients and Recipes

You don’t have to create an entire gourmet meal every time you cook at home. A simple casserole, a pasta dish, burgers…it’s all good. Just try to get the food groups in and you’ll be fine. Simple ingredients and recipes can make for quick easy meals.

Do Prep Work Whenever

The next time you are on the phone for an extended time, use a headset or place it on speaker phone and go and do some dinner prep. Chop vegetables during TV commercials. Add some marinade to frozen chicken and place it in the fridge while you are waiting for your tea to steep.

The point is to do prep work in pieces, whenever you have time. Then when it is time to make the actual meal, there will be less to do, and you won’t have missed those bits of time that you spent on the prep work.

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4 Comments

Filed under Saving Money

4 responses to “Finding Time to Cook

  1. Tashi

    Great piece! i agree that home cooking can take less time than perceived. I cook at home all the time, experimenting and trying new things. Oftentimes, I will do just as you mentioned — take care of prep work ahead of time, sometimes, a part of the whole prep here, another part another time, and so on, until all of the prep is done. I did this recently when I was getting ready to make black bean burgers (aka, veggie burgers). I try to do prep work long before I want to actually have the food ready, so that all I have to do is whip the meal together in less time than it would take to, say, like you mentioned, eat out. Sometimes, I don’t mind tackling everything all at once. But more often than not these days, I do prep in pieces, as my time and moods dictate. Yes, I share the fruits of my labor. 🙂

  2. You are my idol when it comes to easy meals! Feel free to share your results any time.

  3. Tashi

    I’m an idol??? 🙂 Cool. Now my dog has an idol buddy. LOL Seriously, thanks! By the way, the black bean burgers turned out great. Of course, not exactly adhering to the recipe, but you modify as you need to, as you wish to. They’re still not lean ground beef patties formed by my culinary-aspirational hands. But during Lent, I think I will manage just fine. As for making the veggie burgers, I used shredded carrots, finely-chopped onions, and added a bit of chili powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper, as I didn’t have everything in the recipe (which was originally from All You Magazine a few years ago, I think). I top them with thinly-sliced tomato, lettuce, and some sweet chili sauce, in between two pieces of whole grain toast. There are already whole grain toast bread crumbs in the mix that I made. Sometimes, I skip the toast at the end, and just eat them without a bun or toast. Hungry yet? 🙂

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