What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
Right now, everyone is spending more time at home. But does this mean you actually HAVE more time?
If you have young children, you probably feel as if you can’t leave them alone for one minute.
This might mean that you have to wait to do all the chores until the kids are in bed. Leaving you with no time to yourself in the evening.
Of course, you can’t switch off your parenting duties, and making sure your family is ok and cared for is essential.
What you can do though, is be mindful about how you use your time when you do have a moment.
One of the things you can do is make sure meals are ready in a flash. Either by batch cooking or meal-prep.
Here are 3 tips to meal-prep like a pro, leaving you with some extra (breathing) time.
Plan ahead. This can really give you a bit of headspace, knowing what you will prepare for lunch, dinner or even breakfast. Here you can also mix and match with your produce: boil a big batch of potatoes, mash up half of this for a main meal, slice another ¼ and use in a spanish omelette for breakfast or lunch, and use the rest in a potato salad. Or make a vegetable filled tomato sauce, used one day in a chilli, with some added beans and cooked mince if you’re a carnivore, mixed in with cooked pasta and extra fresh herbs, or blended until smooth and spread on 'healthier' pizzas one night.
Using different components to keep your meals interesting is really simple, as long as you see your foods as building blocks. Think: Veggies, protein sources such as chicken, fish, eggs and beans, and carbohydrates such as (sweet) potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat and rice.
If you are keen on using leftovers the next day, plan this in advance when you go shopping so you have enough ingredients for your meals to last you 2 days.
You can even go as far as writing down all your meals for the week.
If you know some foods you eat regularly are unlikely to last long in the fridge, make sure to eat these in the beginning of the week. For example: fresh fish, chicken, mushrooms or salad leaves.
Dedicate time and space. In order to make this a successful and lasting habit, really dedicate a set time every week to prepare some or all of your meals. If you want to involve the family, great! If not, try and organise your home situation that you have the kitchen to yourself for a couple of hours, for undisturbed cooking. Turn on your favourite podcast or playlist, and get cooking!
Before you start, take all the foods out you want to prepare. This includes any spices, grains, oils and baking ingredients you may use.
With everything at an arm's reach, it can be a lot easier to grab and go, and to start seeing opportunities of what you can do while the pots are on.
If you know your fridge is small, try and use the freezer instead. Create some meals that are complete and freeze these, ready to go on oven dishes. Move them from freezer to fridge the night before and all you have to do is turn on the oven and set your timer.
Use your kitchen to the max. Getting comfortable with this might take a bit of time, but it will save you so much time in the long run.
Work your kitchen like a chef. When you preheat your oven, use this time to cut the veggies you plan to roast, season your meat and have everything in dishes to go. Once the oven is at the right temperature, put your dishes in, and swiftly move on to the next task. Think ahead of how long your ingredients will cook. If you know you have one pot that you want to use for boiling eggs, steaming broccoli and making soup, you want to leave the soup to last. As this will take the longest, and you can easily walk away from this for a couple of minutes.
So, while one thing is on the hob, can you be doing something else? Wash and chop veggies for the next dish. Cook off some proteins to use in your lunches during the week. Pre-cut vegetable sticks for snacks, make a couple of jars with overnight oats while waiting.
It’s all about using your time, space and cooking abilities as best as you can. When you plan ahead, dedicate your time to just cook for an hour or so, and utilize your kitchen and the equipment that comes with it to its best, all you have to do is heat up your meals when it’s dinner time!