10 easy ways to spend less time in the kitchen without compromising on healthy meals
In our fast-paced lives, spending hours in the kitchen may not always be feasible or desirable. However, limited time should not lead to unhealthy eating habits.
The good news is that it’s entirely possible to have nutritious home-cooked meals without slaving over a stove all day.
With some clever strategies and meal-planning hacks, you can easily prepare wholesome meals in a shorter time span. This guide presents straightforward and manageable tips on how to achieve this balance, allowing you to savor healthy meals and spend less time in the kitchen.
10 ways to cook healthy food in less time
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to be chained to your kitchen. Here are 10 easy strategies that can help reduce time spent preparing meals without compromising on health.
1) Plan your week in advance
Starting your week with a clear plan can massively reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. On the weekend, sit down and sketch out what meals you’re going to prepare for the upcoming week. This allows you to make efficient shopping lists, avoiding unnecessary trips.
Be sure to consider your schedule. On busier days, plan for simpler meals or rely on pre-prepped portions. Less time spent figuring out meals equals less stress and more free time.
2) Prep ingredients ahead of time
Chopping, peeling, and marinating—all these tasks can be quite time-consuming when preparing meals. Yet, they can easily be done ahead of time. On a quiet day or evening, get into the kitchen and start arranging and managing your ingredients for the week’s meals.
Whether it’s washing and slicing your vegetables, or portioning out your protein for various dishes, getting these tasks done beforehand can save you a ton of time during busy days.
3) Batch cook and freeze
Batch cooking is a secret weapon for many busy people who still want to eat healthy. The concept is simple: you cook plenty of food at once and freeze it in portions to consume later. This method makes excellent use of your time in the kitchen and makes you tasty meals.
It can be used for any meal or snack: breakfast smoothies, soups for lunch, or even your favorite stew for dinner. Stow it in the freezer and just defrost it when needed.
4) Get meal kits delivered
If you’re running high on demand but low on time, consider the benefits of a healthy meal prep kit delivery service like HelloFresh. These offerings are an absolute savior for busy folks who want to eat nutritious meals without the drain of shopping, chopping, and cooking.
These services typically offer a robust menu of creatively curated meals designed by nutritional experts. All ingredients come pre-measured and prepped with step-by-step instructions!
5) Have a go-to recipe collection
Having tried-and-tested recipes on hand can save you time. They don’t require you to double-check measurements or instructions, as familiarity makes the process quicker and smoother. Keep a collection of simple and nutritious recipes that you and your family enjoy.
Create digital folders or maintain a physical binder to refer to when meal planning or cooking. Rotate these meals weekly or monthly based on your preference to ensure variety.
6) Use multitasking kitchen tools
Effective multitasking kitchen tools can reduce both your cooking time and the number of pots and pans to clean up after. Invest in multitasking tools such as a blender, food processor, or an Instant Crock Pot that works as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, and more.
For example, a food processor could rapidly cut or shred vegetables for you in seconds. These versatile appliances do multiple tasks efficiently so you can prepare your meals quickly.
7) Avoid distractions in the kitchen
Time can easily slip away when you’re scrolling through social media, answering emails, or watching a TV show while trying to cook. To maximize your cooking efficiency, try to minimize distractions when you’re in the kitchen. Dedicate this time to meal preparation and cooking.
It will not only speed up the process, but also allow you to focus and enjoy the art of cooking more. By avoiding distractions, you’ll find it easier to multitask when cooking your meal.
8) Use leftovers creatively
Leftovers can be a game-changer in reducing overall kitchen time. Consider making double portions when cooking, then using the surplus for the following day’s meal with a new twist. If you had tacos for dinner, use what is left in a wrap or salad for lunch the next day.
Or transform leftover veggies into a vibrant stir-fry or toss them into a soup. Using leftovers not only reduces waste but also your time spent in the kitchen, as half of your work is already done!
9) Go raw occasionally
Not all meals need to be cooked. Embracing raw foods in your diet can save you time and preserve the nutrients often lost during cooking. Incorporating meals like salads, smoothies, or cold wraps into your day can give you a break from the stove while offering nutrient-rich options.
There are so many options to choose from, too, like fresh fruits and veggies, seeds, and nuts. Going raw occasionally offers variety in texture and flavor in your diet while saving kitchen time.
10) Ask your family for help
Most of us aren’t alone in our cooking journeys. Remember, preparing meals can be a shared responsibility if you have a family at home. If you live with a partner or kids old enough to assist, involve them in the process after discussing their health needs and dietary contributions.
They don’t have to do a lot. Even small help such as setting the table, washing vegetables, or stirring the pot can speed things up. Plus, working together makes mealtime more enjoyable.
Prepare healthy meals in less time
You now have a plateful of tips to prepare healthy meals without spending excess time in the kitchen. Whether it’s batch cooking or effective meal planning, these strategies are meant to make your life easier. Start with one or two ideas and gradually incorporate others as you become more comfortable. With some effort, cooking can be a joyous activity, not a chore.