Are you finding yourself in the fast-food drive thru more often than you would like? You are not alone. One study showed that 56% of Americans say they eat out 2 to 3 times a week. It seems we are so busy between work schedules and taking our children to activities there is no time left for cooking at home. It does not have to be that way though let me show you 6 ways to help you make time for cooking.
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6 Ways to Help You Make Time for Cooking
1. Literally Make More Time
This may be a tough one to tackle, but you may have to give up some activities to have time to cook. Maybe give up one or two television shows or scroll time on Instagram and instead use this time to prep for the coming day. The average social media user is on for 2.5 hours daily. It is so easy to waste time and you may have more time than you realize.
Too many activities throughout the week? Narrow them down to one or two per week so you can be at home.
2. Start Slow to Create a New Habit
It’s human nature to go all in on a new idea and do as much as you can, but that can be overwhelming and ultimately lead to quitting. Forming new habits are hard, so go easy on yourself.
Start slow by choosing one or two new recipes a week and choose simple meals to start with. Repeat the process each week choosing more recipes and soon you will have a plethora of go to meals that you know your family enjoys eating.
3. Have a Written Meal Plan
This is the part that trips you up and why most people find themselves at the drive thru for the third time in a week. Failure to plan ahead puts more pressure and stress on you because you have no idea what is for dinner and the meat is frozen solid in the freezer.
Sit down one afternoon or evening and go over your schedule for the upcoming week. Make a written plan of what you will be feeding your family and have the ingredients on hand.
If you have never meal planned and feel a little lost or don’t know where to start, let’s meal plan together.
4. Prep Your Food Ahead of Time
Pre chop the vegetables, marinate the meat, or soak the grains. Do whatever prep work is needed to make cooking a meal fast and easy in the days ahead. It is a much easier choice to eat at home if half the work is already done.
I keep diced peppers and onions in my freezer for this very reason. It is so handy to have prechopped veggies in the freezer and it makes cooking easier for me.
If you must pack lunches for yourself or your children, prep the items ahead of time or package up leftovers in individual containers to be reheated at work. My husband uses Hot Logic Mini Portable Oven to heat his leftovers in his van (he is an HVAC Technician, so he does not have a microwave or refrigerator). This has helped our budget tremendously because he can now pack leftovers from dinner!
5. Cook Extra While You are Cooking
Once you have built a new habit of cooking at home cook extra when you are in the kitchen. While you are using your stove, use the oven also. Bake some cookies such as Gluten Free Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies and freeze a batch for snacks or lunches.
Become acquainted with your freezer. Learn how to freeze items such as Gluten Free Biscuits, Spicy Beef and Lentil Soup, or Oat Flour Pancakes. Make the most of the time you DO have in the kitchen. You will thank yourself on those busy days whenever you don’t have time.
6. Plan to Eat Out
I know this whole post is about eating at home, BUT you are human, and you will eventually need a break from cooking. Instead of going out to eat on a whim and then dealing with the guilt, plan for it.
Whether you allow one meal a week or once a month, choose the dates that you will go out to eat. Make it fun by letting the children decide which restaurant to eat at or choose a new cuisine your family has never tried before.
Knowing you have a reward coming helps you stay on track with the goal of cooking at home and it keeps you within your budget.
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