One of the things I get asked a lot deals with the amount of time that I spend cooking and how I find the time to make so much food from scratch. I also get asked how much time I spend cooking each day. I'm not going to lie, switching over to eating real foods did take some getting used to and at first I was overwhelmed by how long it took me to do everything. But the longer you do something, the faster it becomes and you learn time saving tips as you go.
I will share some of my other tips:
MENU PLANNING I wrote more about meal planning in the post below, but I do consider this my number one time saver. Knowing what I am having through the week allows me to do prep work one time for multiple meals. If I know that I need chopped onions for three different meals, I can go ahead and chop three onions while I am preparing for that first meal, it only takes a couple of extra minutes and I only have to wash my cutting board and knife once, not three different times. Not only does that save time it also gives me less dishes to wash!
BULK COOKING If I am at all able I will make extras of something so that I can freeze part of them. If I make waffles, I make extra and some go in the freezer. I let them cool, then wrap them in wax paper and place into a freezer bag. Lots of prepared foods can be frozen and if I am not sure, I search on Google "do waffles freeze well?" and can find the answer pretty quickly. I then have the convenience of the processed foods that I gave up, and I have the peace of mind of knowing that the food is prepared with ingredients that I want in my body.
FOOD PREP DAY I have one day a week that I put some effort into preparing food to be eaten on those crazy days that I don't have a lot of time to cook, don't feel like cooking, or if I am just having a bad pain day and am unable to cook. I usually plan at least one meal a week that can be easily doubled or tripled. We will eat one of those meals on the night they are planned, and the other one or two meals go in the freezer to be eaten at a later time.
Another food prep day may include a canning project. I can throughout the year and the majority of my canning is done seasonally. Since nothing is coming in during the winter months, I focus on canning things like soups, chili, meat that I find on sale and different types of beans. This week I will be making a batch of pork and beans to go in the pantry.
Sometimes my food prep might be making a dessert item. If I make a full batch of a dessert we either eat too much of it or part of it gets thrown away. On a food prep day I might make a couple of batches of different cookies. I will use my scoop to measure out the cookie dough and then freeze them on a cookie sheet in a single layer. When they are frozen I will put them in a freezer bag and I can pull out enough to make for dessert that night without having too much of it sitting around.
These tips help me save time and still allows us to have food prepared with real ingredients and allows me to have my own stash of "fast food". If you know me personally, you know that I deal with a chronic pain condition and sometimes I have flare ups that leave me unable to stand for very long. In the past, when this would happen I would call my husband and he would pick up dinner at a drive through which kind of defeats our goal of giving up processed foods. Since I have meals in jars or in the freezer, I can now get a home coked meal on the table quicker than he can go to the drive through and with almost no effort on my part. (In his defense, he could cook dinner, but we would be eating dinner pretty late by the time he got home and got dinner going).
My next post will be how I keep up with all the food in the freezer!