More and more people are eating out these days. Not only is it because we are so busy, but it is super convenient as well. It can get us in and out of the door in only a few minuets and if you go through a drive-thru, it’s even quicker. The unfortunate problem with eating on the go is of course the loss of nutrition from fast food or take-out and the big one for most people is the cost. We used to eat out a lot, and when I sat down and figured out the cost, I was ashamed of how much we were spending each month. The amount we spent on eating out would have left us eating like kings and queens if we spent that money on groceries at home.
With me, eating out is just too convenient. We live right down the block from a strip on a busy street filled with anything from local joints to every fast food restaurant imaginable and even some chain sit downs. I also suffer from chronic pain and fatigue and honestly, just cooking is sometimes too much for me to handle and so I give in and get something less than ideal. I have learned a few things along the way to prepare me for my bad pain days or the days when we are just too busy. Here are my tips on how to find time to cook, even when you don’t have time.
How to Find Time to Cook (When You Don’t Have Time)
Keep easy meals on hand at all times. Sit down and make a list of meals you can make with minimal ingredients. This can be as simple as pasta with some sauce or soups. One of my favorite cheap and easy meals I can make is my Hamburger Casserole. I almost always have those ingredients on hand.
Make freezer meals. This can be done pretty easily and only requires a little bit of your time. You can find tons of freezer meal recipes by just doing a quick search on Pinterest. I like to make soup in big batches and store some in my freezer. Its a quick meal I can pull out and make a sandwich with.
Meal plan. Planning meals takes a little bit of time, but if you do it on a weekly basis, it should only take you about 1/2 hour each week total. To meal plan, I always start with looking in my pantry, fridge and freezer. I make meals based on what we have on hand. I also keep a running list in a notebook of meals that my family loves and try to include 1 or 2 of these each week. If I have some ingredients I am not sure how to use, I do a quick search on Pinterest to find some good recipes to make using those ingredients. For instance, I had some beef broth the other day, so I typed in “Recipes made with beef broth” to see what I could make with other ingredients I had on hand. Doing this save me money because I am not buying duplicates or letting food go to waste. Plus, it saves me time because I already know what I will be making.
Cook in the crock pot. My crock pot is my friend. You can make so many meals in it and it does the cooking for you. This really requires no time. Just do one crock pot meal a week and you save so much time. Freezer meals are perfect for the crock pot as well.
Don’t make things overly complicated. A meal does not have to mean a big main dish with a starch and a veggie side with dessert. A meal can simply consist of soup and a sandwich or a salad with chicken. There are many quick things you can cook that are healthy.
Make some stuff ahead of time. If you start meal planning, you will be able to see what prep work can be done ahead of time. You can shred chicken, cut up some veggies and prepare some sauces a day or two before you need them. This can save time on a busy night.
How do you find time to cook when you don’t have time? I would love any tips you can share in the comments!