Time, time, time. None of us seem to have enough time. So many things to do, errands to run, people to care for, places to go. WHO has time to actually cook? Who has time to make real food? Who has time to be in the kitchen?
I have been teaching people how to cook for more than 15 years now, reminding them of cooking techniques that were well used by their grandmothers and great-grandmothers and the generations before them.
At first I was amazed that people did not know how to cook, and then I realized that it was inevitable: first, “tv dinners”, then the microwave oven. Next, “prepared foods” at supermarkets near you. Why would anyone know how to cook, when all they needed to do was pick up something from the freezer section of the store, pop it into a box, and push the buttons. It’s all food, right?
I have told my Cooking for Well-Being students for years: “it looks like food, it tastes like food, but when it gets into your body and the body is looking for nutrients, it falls far short”. But I digress. If you have read this far, you probably have already discovered that food you make in your own kitchen, homemade food “from scratch”, is so much more satisfying and delicious.
Congratulations for joining the cooking revolution! So where can you save time? Here are some ideas, some of which may not be what you thought!
1. Make meat stock!
I call it the “One Pot Meal that Heals™”. Meat stock is an extraordinary time saver! Meat stock can be a whole chicken in a pot, or thighs or quarters. It can be beef shanks or short ribs. It can be lamb shanks. Add some water to cover add your favorite vegetables and herbs, and a bit of good salt, and you have dinner in an hour and a half (chicken, turkey) to 4-6 hours (beef, lamb, pork, etc.) on the stove.
That is pretty darn quick! And it is delicious. Nutritious. Healing! (Meat stock is what is used to heal and seal a leaky gut. More on that, here.) Fast clean up, too!
2. Make meat stock or bone broth and freeze it!
Making stock or broth regularly and keeping it in quart containers in your freezer is a surefire way to have what you need to make quick and easy soup! I daresay that stock may be the “original fast food”! Yes, it takes time to make, but when you have it on hand, it can be defrosted quickly in room temperature water and a saucepot. Some vegetables and rice (or cauliflower rice) and you are on your way to dinner!
(Note: do NOT make bone broth if anyone in your household has leaky gut—brain function disorders, auto-immune disorders, eczema, rashes, or skin issues, food allergies or sensitivities, seasonal allergies, etc. For more information about why, see my article, “ The Dark Side of Bone Broth”).
3. Soak oatmeal!
Yep. Another time saver! Ditch those instant oatmeal packages and soak some oats. Once they have been soaked in warm water and a bit of acid (yogurt, whey, lemon, apple cider vinegar), it takes minutes to cook them up on the stove. All the anti-nutrients which make oats hard on your digestive system – phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, and more — are neutralized overnight while you are asleep. Sounds like a great way to save time! Need the recipe? See my article on this blog, ”Autumn (or anytime) Oat Porridge”.
4. Use a slow cooker!
You can even put ingredients in the liner before you go to bed for the next night’s dinner. Store it in the refrigerator overnight and pop the liner into the cooker in the morning. Turn on that crock pot before you leave the house, and you will have slow cooked goodness when you get home from work. (Or, if you work from home, you will be able to smell whatever you are cooking all day. Not only will it smell good, but you will get the added benefit of having your digestive juices turned on by the aroma. When you sit down to eat, it will be “all systems go” for digesting your dinner!)
5. Have a chopping party!
Or a chopping day! Yep. Engage family members that you trust with knives or friends who also want to save time in the kitchen and plan a time every week to chop vegetables and store them in the refrigerator.
Buying vegetables whole (or growing them yourself) and then chopping them will save you a lot of money over purchasing those pre-cut and packaged vegetables. AND, you get the added benefit of fresher vegetables.
(Once vegetables are peeled or cut, they begin to lose their vitality, and their vitamins. Who knows how long those bags of mini carrots have been around? Who cut them, anyway? Machines? How long did it take from harvest to factory? From cutting to bagging? From bagging to boxing? From boxing to transporting on a truck to your store? How long on the loading dock? How long in the refrigerator? And finally, how long in the produce aisle?! Are you getting this? That is not to say never purchase bags of pre-cut veggies. It is fine to do in a pinch. I just don’t suggest it as a rule, for the aforementioned reasons.)
6. Purchase pre-cut vegetables.
Yep. With all the caveats mentioned in number 5, if the choice is no vegetables vs. pre-cut vegetables, opt for the veggies.
I hope these ideas serve you well! If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to save time in the kitchen, see one of my previous posts here on Plan to Eat: “Busting the ‘takes too long’ myth!”
Be well, all! And keep on cookin’!
Monica Corrado, MA, CNC, CGP is a teaching chef, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and Certified GAPS Practitioner who is passionate about illuminating the connection between food and well-being. A member of the Honorary Board of the Weston A. Price Foundation for almost 20 years, Monica is a dynamic teacher, speaker, consultant, and author who lives to share the tools, knowledge and inspiration to cook nourishing, traditional food. Monica is also The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome™) Chef”, and teaches cooking for the GAPS diet for Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Training team.
FB: Simply Being Well: Cooking for Wellbeing