How to Spend Less Time Preparing Meals

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How to Spend Less Time Preparing Meals

It is not surprising that many people choose the quickest and most convenient meal options throughout the day. When you are struggling to find time to finish all of life’s tasks (i.e., work duties, caring for children, connecting with friends, etc.), opting for the fastest food choice can become second nature.

While quick meals don’t have to be unhealthy, the unfortunate reality is that often, they are. The act of preparing a well-balanced meal can seem overwhelming and in the moment, it is easy to reach for a bag of chips to satiate your hunger.

However, repeatedly making poor food choices can have negative consequences in the long run. A consistent pattern of eating less than nutritious meals can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and can possibly even lead to conditions such as anemia when you are not getting the right amount of iron.

So how can you find the time to make healthy food choices when you barely have time to brush your hair in the morning? With a little forethought on the front end and some planning, you can improve your eating habits while still having time to devote to other necessities.

Create a Meal Plan – and Stick to It

You have probably heard of planning out your meals, but if you’re like many people, you might be intimidated by the idea of having to think of meals for every day of the week. Spending some time on the weekend to decide your meals for the rest of the week can actually save you time, though. Consider this: You can spend fifteen minutes on a Sunday deciding your meals for the whole week rather than wandering the kitchen aimlessly for fifteen minutes every night (which adds up!) trying to scrounge up enough calories to get through the rest of the day.

Start simple, and be flexible with your meals. If you know Mondays are your long days at work, consider a “no cook” meal option like sandwiches or salads. On nights where you may be less tired or have a little more room in your schedule, you can make meals that require the stove and oven.

Clean as You Cook

A downside to cooking can be the amount of dishes that are used in the process. Learn to clean up as you are preparing your meals. Instead of having a huge pile of dirty dishes after you eat, you will have already taken care of the mess. For example, after cutting up vegetables, immediately put the cutting board and knife in the dishwasher (or handwash, if necessary). The same goes for using measuring cups, whisks, mixing bowls, etc. Instead of placing a dish in the sink, place it in the dishwasher, and you’ll have eliminated the extra step of going back to the sink and taking care of all those dishes.

Wipe up spills as you go. Cleaning up pasta sauce you just spilled is much easier (and faster!) when it is still a liquid than spending several minutes trying to scrub off dried sauce that is caked onto the stove.

Meal Prep

When you already have your meals planned out, you can utilize spare moments on the weekend to chop up the vegetables you know you will be using. If you know you will be sautéing onions for a stir fry tomorrow, go ahead and chop them up while you are talking to your friend on the phone. You can store them in a bowl in the refrigerator, and save yourself that time when you are cooking the next night.

Small adjustments to your cooking routine can add up over time. With some practice, you will find yourself spending less time on cooking and cleaning up the kitchen and more time on what you enjoy.


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