Written by John Immel,
Top Tip #1 - Purchase These Time Saving Kitchen ToolsHaving the right kitchen tools and appliances will save you precious time.
The first essential time saving tool is a blender. Do you run out the door most mornings on an empty stomach? A blender can change all of that as you blitz up delicious and filling smoothies in five minutes or less. Stick blenders are also a worthwhile purchase. You can use them to blend your favorite vegetables into silky soups or a creamy mash.
When time is of the essence, a crockpot will become your best friend. Crockpot meals are quick and easy to prepare. If you are in a rush, just add some of your favorite vegetables, beans, water and a stock cube and you've got yourself a no effort dinner. Best of all, they are so easy to clean! Almost every meal that you cook in a pot on the stove can be made in a crockpot too. Generally, a crockpot takes five hours on a high heat setting, or eight hours on a low heat setting (make sure to check individual appliance guidelines). Not only will this save you valuable time standing over a hot stove, slow cooking really enhances the flavors in a recipe - think soups, stews and curries.
Good quality storage containers are perfect for storing leftovers, and also means you can prep for a few meals in advance and keep the ingredients ready in the fridge. Get a range of all shapes and sizes to suit your needs, but it is highly recommended to purchase glass instead of plastic. Make sure you have some containers that can work as a lunch box. This will save you save you time during the lunch hour rush at your local deli or salad bar.
Also, don't waste time watching a pot of water boil. Buy an electric tea kettle to boil water quickly.
Have you ever tried to cut up a pumpkin or a turnip with a blunt knife? It is a time sucking nightmare. A good quality, sharp chopping knife (keep out of the reach of children) will make chopping vegetables quick and easy and save time.
Top Tip #2 - Stock your KitchenWhen you are tired and hungry, the last thing you want to do is go to the supermarket, drive home and then prepare something from scratch. The best way to avoid this oversight is to choose and commit to a regular time each week you can shop for food.
Make a default grocery list of staples you want to keep on hand each week and put it in the glove box of your car. A ready made list will save you time and ensure you get all the essentials you need for a healthy week. You can always add variety with a few seasonal items to your cart. Make sure quick to cook white rice, ready to eat nuts and easy to prepare frozen vegetables and canned beans are on the list.
Once you have this system in place, your shopping time will be cut dramatically and your kitchen will always be reliably stocked. Having pantry staples on hand at all times means you can come home from a long day and whip something nutritious up in no time.
Many people benefit from actually planning their meals in advance too. You can make up a simple chart of meals and stick it on the fridge, mapping out your breakfast, lunch and dinner (don't forget some tasty snacks and desserts too!) for the week ahead. This can reduce the decision making stress associated with cooking. Everything is already laid out for you, and this plan tells you which ingredients to supplement in your routine shopping list. This will save you precious time and brainpower. It will also reduce food waste and your grocery bill as you are just buying exactly what you need each week.
Top Tip #3 - Easy to Prepare Recipe IdeasTo make life easy, forget trying to prepare intricate meals when time is stretched thin. Take the pressure off your already packed schedule and prepare simple recipes. After a while, you will find the ones that work best for you. Then, you can rotate these 'go to' meals during the week and prepare something new each weekend or when you have some time to spare. Here are a few samples to get you started. They are all simple to prepare with most taking between 5-30 minutes to make (*note: Red Lentil Dal and Kitchari can be made in a slow cooker as per appliance instructions to save time):
Top Tip #4 - Cook Once a Day OnlyFind a time of the day that works best for you and set aside about an hour dedicated to cooking and cleaning the kitchen. With the recipes suggested above, this is enough time to prepare your breakfast, lunch and dinner for the day ahead. If you are an earlier riser, first thing in the morning works well for this system. Make breakfast as normal, then prepare enough of one main dish so you can enjoy it for both lunch and dinner.
If your mornings don't allow for this, you can easily follow the same process when you get home. Prepare a double serving of dinner and save half in your new glass storage container for lunch the following day. It only takes a minute or two to have your breakfast ingredients ready to go for the morning. While leftover food can save you time, Ayurveda promotes eating freshly cooked food as much as possible. It is recommended to eat prepared meals within 24 hours of cooking.
Top Tip #5 - Speed up your Cooking ProcessSo now you're prepared and ready to go, but the time saving tips don't stop here. You may be surprised how much time is actually wasted during the cooking process. But lucky for you, there are some simple techniques to speed up your cooking time.
As soon as you walk into your kitchen, fill up the electric tea kettle and start boiling water. Most meals require hot water at some step in the process, so you can do this even while you're deciding what to cook. Once the water is boiled, most meals are 15 minutes from completion.
Learn how to wield a knife and peeler so you can chop and peel with ease - as this can cut cooking time in half. Here are some youtube videos on the subject:
If you really want to hone your skills, take an online at-your-own-pace cooking e-course. A 10 hour cooking class will not only improve your quality of life by enhancing the taste of your food, it may save you up to 20 minutes each time you prepare a meal, for the rest of your life. If you cook for 60 years in your life, and prepare meals twice a day, that amounts to 14,600 hours of time saved in your life. What a great investment!
ConclusionBy following these tips, you'll be healthier and more efficient in the kitchen. You'll notice you have more energy and feel fresh at the end of a busy week, rather than crashing on the couch and relying on your favorite take out. Support your body with the right food so it can sustain you all week long.
Healthy food actually increases effectiveness and productivity, while improving your sense of happiness too. You'll be better equipped to deal with challenges as they arise and cope with the stress of a fully booked calendar.
The aim is to make cooking stress free and enjoyable, so go at the pace that is right for you. By following these tips, you'll notice that each week it becomes easier, and you will start seeing and feeling the results of your input.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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