Do you want to cook more from scratch meals but don’t know how you can fit it into your busy schedule? You can absolutely do it; here’s six tips to help you cook from scratch and save time on those busy days.
We all have those busy days where you seem to be running constantly from sun up to sun down. The alarm goes off and you spend the next 12 hours on the go. The last thing you think you have time for is from scratch meals.
What ever busy looks like in your life, the question of “what’s to eat?” is asked day after day. We all want to feed our families the best quality food we can. But how can you do that when it feels like you’re never home?
That’s another great question and these tips will help get you there. As you read through these keep in mind that it can take time to implement all of these changes to a busy lifestyle. But don’t ever feel like you can’t do it.
Small steps lead to big changes, start small and work your way up. Set yourself goals that are manageable, then expand those goals as you reach each one.
Meal planning the meals you want to cook for the week is the number 1 tip to fit cooking from scratch into a busy life. Spending time planning answers the questions “what’s for dinner” or breakfast/lunch if that’s what you’re planning for.
It also gives you a chance to work out meals that share ingredients.
Take a few minutes over the weekend and decide what’s on the menu for the week. It’s a good idea to base the menu around what’s on sale at the grocery store, or what’s ripe in the garden. Or maybe you have a lot of one ingredient and you want to use some of that up.
However you decide to develop your menu for the week, planning it around what’s in abundance is a great way to come up with meal ideas.
Meal planning will also eliminate shopping trips. If you need to make a grocery trip for some ingredients, one trip to the store saves you time.
When planning your meals, plan them so that several meals will use the same ingredients. If you have several meals planned that use the same ingredients, you can spend a little bit of time one day preparing. Then they’ll be ready for the other meals you have planned through the week.
As you develop your meal plan, take into consideration how much time you’ll have on each day. If you know one day you’ll have 30 minutes but on another day you may have an hour, pick meals that fit into those times.
Keep Your From Scratch Meals Simple
Have you ever looked up recipes and seen mouth-watering pictures and then see the meal takes two hours from start to finish? I’ll admit, I have some of those on this blog but who has time for that every day? I love the recipes I’ve posted, But I don’t always have time to make them and I’m sure you don’t either.
Those recipes are best for the days you have the time to spend in the kitchen. Maybe that’s a Sunday night family dinner or a Thursday morning breakfast.
The rest of the time, keep your meals simple. Simple is often better, anyway, so don’t feel that meals have to be complicated to taste good.
Instead, use salt and herbs to liven up a dish. A simple stir fry can be completely different meals by using different ingredients and different herbs.
A Stocked Pantry Makes From Scratch Cooking Easy
I suppose there are some people out there that love going to the grocery store, but I’m not one of them. One way to avoid them is to meal plan, only going to the store once a week. Or even once a month if you can plan that far in advance.
Another way to avoid them is to keep your pantry stocked. Buying in bulk does cost more up front. It can be a bit of a shock when you’re used to paying $5.50 for 2 pounds of organic long grain white rice and see a 25 pound bag of organic long grain white rice is $60.
But when you realize the per pound cost is cheaper by buying bulk, and you aren’t wasting the time and gas going to the store to get rice, the bulk bag is the better deal.
Food prices keep going up, too. If you buy in bulk you don’t have to worry about rising prices. If you can buy a years worth of rice or beans, you’re not as affected by those rising prices.
Rice, beans, flour, sugar, herbs, and salt are all things that store well and are good to keep on hand. Many different meals can be made with these basic ingredients. Having them on hand ensures that you never run out of these staples.
If you have the freezer space and eat meat, sourcing meat from local farmers and buying it in bulk is a great way to always have good quality meat on hand.
The Right Tools Make From Scratch Cooking Quick
Saving up for the right tools will make from scratch meals so much quicker and easier. I often use my InstantPot and slow cooker to make meals that have very little hands on time.
The InstantPot, or any other equivalent appliance, can cook something like pulled pork in 45 minutes versus several hours in a pot. Rice is cooked in 5 minutes and not 20-30 on the stove top. Most InstantPots can even double as a slow cooker.
Slow cookers require a little prep work in the morning, but often times it’s no more than 10-20 minutes. Then a delicious dinner cooks all day while you’re running around trying to remember the next task on your to-do list. Slow cookers are safe to leave running all day while your gone. It’s an excellent choice for the days you spend out and about.
Roasts, full chickens, shredded meats, soups, and stews are all great options for slow cooker meals. Check out my post for a Slow Cooker Pot Roast to see how easy it is to make a delicious roast in your slow cooker.
Another useful small appliance is a food processor. They can chop, puree, shred, or slice different vegetables and foods. Shred cheese in seconds, mix up a batch of hummus as quick as you can add the ingredients, or make your own mayonnaise in minutes.
Cooking A Double Or Triple Batch Makes Life Easier
It takes almost the same amount of time to prepare two or three batches of a meal as it does one. The prep time is extended by a few minutes because you are chopping more. But adding a few more minutes to prep now will save you making an entire meal on another day.
Take the extra batches and freeze them for later.
We all have days where there aren’t enough minutes in the day. If you’ve taken the time to make and freeze extra meals, pull one out of the freezer in the morning. By the time you’re ready to eat in the evening, all you need to do is heat it up.
This gives you a “convenience” meal, made completely from scratch. It’ll take even less time than it would have taken to make something out of a box.
If you want to go a step further, you can make batches of meals that are safe for canning. Most of these types of meals-ready-to-go will require a pressure canner. If you do make some, it will give you good from scratch meals that will heat up to serve in minutes.
You Can Make From Scratch Meals Every Day
If you follow these tips, and develop your own methods, you can make from scratch meals every day. Don’t let your busy life take away healthy meals for your family!