Life. It gets in the way of a lot of our best intentions. From laundry and emails to work and walking the dog, life’s obligations often use up the time we need to set and maintain good habits. Fun fact: of the roughly 65 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions, most have broken them by January 12th.
Among the most common New Year’s resolutions are eating healthy and saving money. Making meals, snacks, and smoothies at home achieves both at the same time.
If you’re worried about the time this takes — and that pesky obstacle called life — don’t. Time can be stretched and saved with just a few simple changes to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner (aka BLD) routines. Some people call these changes kitchen hacks. We just call them smart.
This is an obvious but important first step to saving time and eating better. Inventory the foods in your kitchen once a week at the same time every week. Throw out what’s spoiled, move ingredients and prepared foods that you need to eat right away to the front of the fridge and pantry, and make a list of staples that need replacing. The investment here is low—about three minutes — but the dividends are exponential.
Precook Your Grains
Cook all the grains you’ll need for the week at once. Whether it’s quinoa or farro, rice, or risotto, grains are easy to reheat and hold up well in the fridge. They’re also delicious in cold salads, wraps, and breakfast bowls.
Never ever make single servings. ‘But I’m cooking for myself,’ you say. No matter. Double the ingredients called for to get twice the portions per dish. Why? Because everybody loves leftovers and because making tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch at once means one cleanup instead of two.
Make a big batch of a single sauce and pair it with unique proteins in different meals. For example, ground beef bolognese is delicious poured over penne or stuffed in roasted peppers. The reverse works, too. Make small batches of two or three sauces and serve each with the same protein — because you doubled up (see above point) — and a unique side.
Chop, Blend, Bag
After your recipe-sourcing, meal-planning, and grocery shopping are done, prep and bag your ingredients by dish and day of the week you’ll eat them. Prepping means chopping, blending, hard-boiling, and all the other ‘ings’ that you can do in advance. Bagging means grouping shared recipe ingredients in storage bags or containers that you can pluck from the fridge in one go. Translation: No more searching the fridge for the yogurt you know you have but cannot find and need to make the smoothie you want.
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Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash