Planning ahead for meals is essential to sustaining a healthy lifestyle.
Cooking with real food takes extra time. I ain’t gonna bullshit ya. More preparation is involved, but there are some tricks I’ve learned that help me save time. I love to cook, but I don’t want to spend ALL of my time in the kitchen.
We live in a world of instant gratification. We want it now, whatever “it” is. This thought process can’t be applied to everything. Some things simply require the correct time investment or quality will suffer; quality of health in this case. Nothing worthwhile is easy! Below are some things that have helped me be more efficient in the kitchen without sacrificing good nutrition or wasting money.
Keep the freezer stocked with locally sourced meat.
Buying in bulk will save you money. Talk to your farmer about buying bulk or purchasing a side of beef, a whole pig, etc.
We have a little deep freezer that was only like $125 at Sam’s Club. It has proved enormously handy. We’re looking at getting a bigger one in order to make less trips to the farmer (they live a good ways away from us).
Always have something thawing if you don’t plan to be dining out often.
I feed my dogs the same meat we eat. They eat a raw diet. I always have some type of meat thawing out. Sometimes if I forget to take something out for dinner, I’ll use the meat that’s already thawed for the dogs.
If I’m cooking chicken I definitely make sure this is thawed days ahead of time so I can salt it. Free range chicken tends to be a little tougher and has less fat than caged chickens. They need a good salt brine. I use kosher salt and Real Salt. I fully coat the bird and put it in a covered glass dish in the fridge for at least 24 hours, sometimes longer if it’s a big bird. You can also add some Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar if you like. It will help tenderize the meat while the salt keeps the moisture in. Any vinegar will do, though. I just always go with Bragg’s because it has the mother culture.
Make dinners that can be leftovers.
I know a lot of folks won’t eat leftovers. On one hand, I understand that if you don’t like something, you just don’t like it. I hate watermelon. I cringe at the smell of it. I get it.
On the other hand, this is really wasteful. Please don’t get upset at me. I’m not trying to be a jagoff. It’s just that I’ve heard many folks express their disdain for leftovers with a touch of self-importance, as if leftovers are beneath them. “Oh, I don’t eat leftovers.” Seriously?
It would be fair to at least try it before deciding you just don’t like leftovers, period. If it doesn’t taste good reheated, then don’t eat it. Heating food up in the oven or toaster oven makes a huge difference. Forego the microwave on your next round of leftovers and see how the flavor is so much better. Our tastes are always changing. I eat tons of stuff that I hated as a child. You may try something that you like whereas you didn’t before. I still try to eat watermelon every once in a while to see where I stand.
A lot of the meals I make taste better the day after. You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted spaghetti sauce the day after it was made. The only food I don’t like the day after is my chicken noodle soup. It tastes way better the night you make it. I still eat the leftovers of course, but that first night is the shiz.
Anywho… Meals like pot roast, soups, roasted chicken, chili, curry sauces, taco sauce, etc are all great for leftovers. They provide a huge dinner that you can eat for a few days; A home cooked meal that just needs reheating.
I’m self-employed. Sometimes I get busy as hell and can’t cook. Having leftovers saves my butt frequently. Lately I’ve been roasting a whole chicken and then making a mixed green salad and throwing some chicken on top. A quick, easy, healthy dinner that’s ready in minutes. This will last 2-3 days. I will also use the broth to make a quick and dirty chicken soup. So with one whole chicken, I can get at least eight meals or more from it.
No matter what, every day we have to decide what we’ll have for dinner. I started doing it a couple days in advance. I decide what I’m hungry for in the coming week or so and proceed as needed for thawing meat, procuring veggies, etc.
If I mess up and just forget about dinner (which happens when I get really busy with work), I’ll keep staples at the ready. Eggs and bacon make a great dinner since bacon doesn’t take long to thaw and eggs are usually in the fridge for most folks. I keep bread frozen as well. Another quick meal is organic lunchmeat. Regular lunchmeat has some really creepy shit in it. Up to you which way you go. Either way, it thaws quickly and makes a great grilled ham and chee with some soup. I hate to admit this, but I love a grilled ham and cheese with Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup. They have some organic soup selections now, but Bean with Bacon is not among the ranks yet. This is one of those things I have on my list to make myself. But yeah, in a pinch I will eat it cuz it tastes awesome.
Make it easy – get a crockpot.
If you have nothing else to cook with, have this one item. It’s idiot proof. A crockpot makes it so easy to cook. Throw everything in the crockpot in the morning, set it on low, and at the end of the day dinner is served.
Quick crockpot roast: Roll roast in flour, brown, add to crockpot with carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and some beef stock. Fill remaining space with water and set on low. If you have a lean roast, add a beef marrow bone or bit of beef fat. Takes 5 minutes. Boom. Serve with some good fresh italian bread and butter.
Make it fun.
When it’s time to cook I turn on some tunes and do it up right. I especially love to cook with someone else that loves to cook. Sure, sometimes I don’t feel like cooking. I don’t like to think of cooking as drudgery, though. I want my good energy going into that food. It must be prepared with love. It shows if I was into cooking the meal or not. So turn on some ELO and git’er done!