I’m not a big fan of cooking and preparing meals. As a result I find myself eating out at lunch instead of packing one and ordering pizza too often. They are expensive and unhealthy habits that I’m trying to break. I’m getting a bit better and I’ve found a few tips that have helped simplify the culinary experience to increase my odds in the kitchen.
- Make your lunch as you make your supper. I find that all I want to do after a long day of work and a big meal is to collapse on the couch and watch Seinfeld reruns. Finding the motivation to get up again to make my lunch for the next day is way too much to ask of me. So what I’ve gotten into the habit of doing is preparing my lunch at the same time I make my evening meal. I’m there anyway and it’s easy to whip up some sandwiches while my pasta is boiling and put aside a couple of pieces of fruit while my head’s in the fridge.
- Fill the sink with dish water as you prepare supper and wash dirty dishes as you go to reduce the amount of post-dinner clean-up. For the same reasons listed above (I just want to veg after supper), my dishes have a tendency to pile up. Doing them as I prepare supper makes it a lot easier to keep on top of the mess.
- Invest in a timed coffee maker. I’m not a big coffee drinker so this isn’t something I’d do but my cousin Liam sets his coffee maker on a timer so he has a steaming cup waiting for him as soon as he gets up. It’s a time saver and a good way to get a couple extra minutes of sleep in the morning.
- Make more than you need for supper so you can take leftovers to work/school the next day. A simple idea that saves you the trouble of making an entirely new meal and a great way to reduce the amount of food waste in your house.
- Can’t find time for breakfast in the morning? Get a Magic Bullet and whip up a healthy smoothie you can take on the road. Fresh or frozen fruit, some yogurt, granola, juice and whatever else tickles your fancy can be a quick, healthy, on-the-go option.
- Get into a grocery shopping routine and make a list. Shopping on the same day of the week will help get you into a familiar routine and keep your pantry shelves well-stocked. I tend to wait until the cupboards are bare before restocking them, but that only leads to me eating out because there’s nothing good to eat and I forgot to go shopping. Making a list is always a good idea to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything and to save you the time and hassle of running back to the store.
- Make multi-purpose dishes. A favourite recipe of mine is a simple veggie mix that can yield a variety of dishes. I just mix a can of drained and rinsed black beans with chopped green and red peppers, onion, garlic, frozen corn and celery. I use that mix to make quesadillas one night, add some rice and burrito seasoning to the mix to make burritos another night, and use the mix again a third night on top of flat bread with tomato sauce and cheese to make pizza.
- Plan your meals ahead so you know if you need to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Think ahead about what you want for supper so you’re not kicking yourself when you get home and realize you don’t have a certain ingredient. Minimize the amount of time you’re picking up groceries by being deliberate in your planning.
- Allow yourself a treat of take-out or dinner at a restaurant from time to time. Everybody needs to indulge guilty pleasures now and again. Don’t feel bad about going out to a restaurant or gorging yourself on ridiculously unhealthy fast food on occasion. Follow the 80/20 rule. Eat well 80% of the time and you should be able to get away with eating 20% of the time not as well.
- Freeze stuff like cooked rice, pasta sauce, jams, fruit, etc so you’ll always have it on hand. Stocking up your freezer with these types of things will make it a lot easier to whip up a dish in a hurry without all the time-consuming prep work.
Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.