Our motto at Fresh Baby is when you make it yourself, you know it’s better. We also believe making it yourself doesn’t have to involve preparing an elaborate meal that takes hours of time away from your day. Home made foods can be simple to plan and prepare, and healthy and fun to eat. We encourage families to share home cooked dinners together at least 3 times per week. Time spent at the dinner table helps a family stay close to each other.
Here are few tips to help you simply your times at the market and in the kitchen:
- Plan your menus: Download a recipe app or subscribe to an email that offers quick meal recipes. When surfing for ideas, search for terms like 30-minute meals, slow cooker recipes, or five ingredients or less dinner menus. Save favorite recipes in a folder or binder. Making a recipe for the second, third or tenth time gets faster and easier.
- Make a grocery list. Be efficient and stick to your list as best as you can. Not only will this save time at the supermarket, research shows that sticking to your grocery list saves money too.
- Keep the pantry stocked. When pantry items, such as rice, canned foods, sauces and pasta, are on sale, buy a few extra of each. It’s easier to prepare a quick meal when the pantry has the staples you need on a regular basis.
- Buy pre-washed veggies in the produce section. The clean and prep work is often the most time consuming part of cooking. The nifty packages of veggies can be a real time saver. A word of warning, pre-packaged items are often more expensive, so look for items on sale or clip coupons for them.
- Buy “No Cook” Foods. Apples, pears, mangoes, avocadoes, cucumbers and tomatoes are all foods that are served raw. A bowl of cut-up fruit or a plate of sliced vegetables makes a simple side dish with very little prep time needed.
- Make meals ahead of time. Set time aside on the weekends to make foods in advance and freeze them. Connect with a friend and share the latest stories, double the recipes, and split up the meals for both families. You’ll both have a good time and a full refrigerator when you are done.
- Recruit and train helpers (a.k.a. your kids). Invite the kids into the kitchen and teach them a few things about cooking — Kids can help clean, chop, tear, stir, read the recipe and more. Cooking is life skill that they will certainly thank you for some day!
- Think Salads. Including whole grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits, and dairy in a meal can be as simple as making a tossed salad topped with grilled chicken, cheese and grapes and serving it with crusty whole-grain bread.
- Invest in a slow cooker. This is fabulous machine for busy families. You can prepare your main dish in the morning and come home to a delicious ready-to-eat meal and great smelling house.
- Make extra for leftovers. It goes without saying; leftovers make great lunches and snacks. If you’re making family favorites, double the recipe and freeze a portion for next week.