Whether you work outside the home, in your own home business, have a family, are a couple or single, we all have to eat.
Making meals takes time
How long it takes, well that depends on what you eat + how you prepare it.
It probably feels like you live in the kitchen when you have special dietary needs and/or a family to feed, especially growing kids 😉
Even though I find cooking and baking relaxing, and a necessity when you need to cater for allergies, there are a bunch of other things I want to do than spend 2-3 hours in the kitchen each day.
Imagine what you could do with say, an extra 4 hours in your week? Maybe you want more time with your kids, a date night, hobby time or to grow your business.
With an extra 4 hours a week you could certainly have a little more life in your life!
Focus on the benefits
Making meals is something we all need to do day in day out. And sharing meals together is a great way to stay connected, support each other and celebrate life together.
So to keep making meals from becoming a disliked chore, I decided to find ways to speed up the making time so I could focus on enjoy life together.
Frozen isn’t number one
There are two ways you can speed up making meals.
You can use processed, prepackaged, take out or frozen meals. Or you can find a more efficient way to do what you already do.
I’m focusing on option two, finding quicker ways of making fresh, healthy meals for my family. One because it’s more nourishing and delicious, and two, because that’s what I naturally do.
I enjoy creating systems + processes to make things easier to manage and quicker to save time.
Almost all our meals are fresh, not frozen. Although you could use this preparation technique and freeze the extra meals if you want to.
Here’s the key
So how do you speed up the time it takes to make healthy meals from scratch?
The key is to have a plan + batch your meal prep, just like you would creating content, doing accounts, answering emails and other routine activities you do each day.
What do I mean by batch? It’s simply doing a bunch of similar tasks as the same time.
Think about making muffins. You would get out all the ingredients and make one muffin, put it all away and then do it all over again when you want another muffin.
Yet this is how many people go about making meals.
When you make muffins you make a batch of them at once. It’s quicker to make a bunch at once and there’s no fighting over who gets the one muffin you just made! 😉
This is what I do to make most of our meals. I prepare other ingredients while I’m making something else.
Sunday breakfast is the exception to my mad meal batching plan.
We cook breakfast together, usually gluten, dairy and egg free waffles with mushrooms, cheese and something bbq’d. I love the relaxed conversation we share. And it’s become a delicious tradition for our weekly planning meetings.
Let’s see how you can save hours in the kitchen so you can use that time to add more life to your life!
Batch your staples ahead of time
You probably have a few favourites that you rotate in your meal planning on a regular basics. Great! That makes batching your meal prep so much easier.
So I’ll give you an idea of some of the things I do so you can see how to use this batching technique with your own meal planning.
We typically have salads for lunch. So to save time I began preparing enough salad for two days of lunches. The second day was awesome! Within five minutes I had lunch ready.
It feels like you’re on vacation. Eating a delicious meal without spending ages in the kitchen. If only we could batch the washing up!
I found that I could stretch that to three days at it still be fresh because I didn’t add anything to the salad, like dressings. Keeping it dry was the key.
And if you’re preparing it the night before like I do now, don’t shake it all together until the next day when you’re ready to use it. Leave it with the beautiful, colourful layers when you cut it up with the more moist ingredients, like cucumber, at the bottom.
Enjoying the time saved with lunches, I moved onto dinners.
A great kitchen appliance to have for batching meals is a slow cooker. Buying one of those beauties is worth every cent and more. We splurged and bought a super large slow cooker that could hold two chickens. It’s awesome!
It has saved me hours upon hours in the kitchen.
And because there’s only three of us, one meal can last for three meals, depending on how you serve it.
When I cook something like moroccan chicken, I store the chicken in a separate container to the sauce. This makes it easy to use that one meal in different ways the following days.
The slow cooker is also fantastic for making your own stocks.
Stocks are the secret for preparing super nourishing meals. This are one thing I’ll cook and freeze to use later. I use stocks for cooking rice, quinoa and buckwheat grouts. It’s a simple way to add delicious flavour and get that nourishing goodness into your meals.
When I cook rice and other grains, I’ll double the quantity so that I can make something else with them too, like friend rice, rice salad or this delicious quinoa and salmon salad.
Another thing I keep in the fridge is sweet potatoes + pumpkin, peeled and cut up ready for stews and roasting. You can even cook some ahead of time, perfect to add to lunches.
We have these one litre honey containers that are the perfect size for storing pre-cut vegetables. One tub full of celery, carrots, zucchini and other veggies is the perfect amount for making a slow cook meal. They’re also great for preparing veggie sticks, a healthy morning or afternoon snack or for lunch boxes.
If you find that you do a lot of baking, your can create your own premixes and store them in the fridge or freezer.
And mix them when it’s time
Ok, so you have all these tubs of your staple foods prepared in your fridge and freezer which is awesome.
Not only are you ready to make some meal magic in a fraction of the time, you’ve spent some quality connection time with your family as you’ve done your meal prep together.
Now putting on a slow cooker meal in the morning before work takes a fraction of the time because everything is ready to simply tip in the pot, except for the onion and garlic, I like to do that as needed.
It’s so good at the end of a busy day to have dinner ready and waiting for you!
Making lunches only takes a few minutes with your salad, dressings and other bits ready to mix. Because you’ve got the ingredients stored separately you can make salads to suit people’s tastes with ease.
You can do similar things for breakfast and meal types. Soups are a great meal to make ahead of time. As are healthy muffins, cookies and slices.
Batching your meal preparation makes eating fresh, healthy meals a whole lots easier and can save you hours in the kitchen each week.
As a bonus, getting lunches ready in the morning can be a lot less stressful when you’re prepared ahead of time. And if your in a pinch for a healthy dinner, you’re now prepared for that too!
So give it a try, start with one meal and expand your time saving techniques over time. You’ll be amazed not only at the time you save but what you can do with that time instead.