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So, you’re trying to eat healthier…soaking things, cooking whole grains, fermenting things.  I applaud you and your efforts to feed your family healthy food!  That’s one of the reasons I really love Cheeky Bums blog, the baby steps are clearly lined up for you. 

Now for a confession…I love to cook.  I love food.  Preparing it.  Serving it.  Eating it.  But I also have a lot of other things I love doing.  There’s knitting and gardening and oh, did I mention my grandchildren?   The down side of cooking is that you have to do it everyday.  Every. Day.  And whether you’re cooking for 6 or for 2, it just has to be done.   Every. Day.  So how do you save time and still cook healthy?  Can it be done?  Yes!!

My quest to save time AND eat healthy food began in earnest when I went back to work full time when my children were fairly young.  They were used to homemade bread.  Home grown and canned fruits and veggies.  Homemade spaghetti sauce.  Homemade, whole grain pizza.   All things that took TIME.  So, I was faced with some choices.  Buy everything or figure out something else.  I figured out something else.

The something else is how to work smarter, not harder in the kitchen.   Look at some of the things that you do over and over and over and then consolidate and and work ahead. Here’s how I did it 30 years ago and still do it today…

  • Cook ahead.  That means if you are making rice or pasta, you don’t make just enough for tonight’s dinner.   You make double or triple your needed amount because they are always a great addition to soups and one-pot meals to make them stretch.  It takes just a few minutes longer, but you’ll have enough to put in your freezer for later in the week.
  • Browning hamburger? Maybe with onions and garlic?  Don’t just do the ½ pound or pound you need for supper tonight.  Do double or triple and freeze the rest in 1/2 pound portions.

 With just these two ideas you’re half way to supper.

  •  Let’s talk about the whole grain pizza crust.  When I was feeding a family of 5, I would make 4 or 5 at a time, then bake the crusts (no sauce or toppings) for 10 minutes or so, just until they were done but not at all brown.  I’d stack them with wax paper in between and freeze them.  When we wanted pizza, I’d take out a crust (or 2 or 3, depending on how many extra teenagers showed up for supper), some of my browned hamburger from the freezer and we were most of the way to eating. Looking for a great pizza crust (with easy instructions for soaking your grains?) Check out this delicious recipe!
  • Does your recipe call for beans?  Soaking dried beans overnight is a great way to neutralize the phytates that cause…um…unpleasant after-effects of eating beans.  This is a great first step in a Traditional Foods diet and an easy and cheap method to incorporate!  Make lots and freeze them in recipe sized portions.  Check out this great explanation and tutorial!
  • Use lots of green peppers or onions?  Buy them when they are cheap (not usually in January!), spend a half an hour chopping and freeze them in zippered plastic bags for later.
  • Roasting a chicken?  Buy 2 and roast them at the same time.  Feast on one for dinner, then pick off the remaining meat from both birds and pop it in the freezer to use in soups, burritos and casseroles! Why dirty more dishes? Do it all at the same time!
  • Making soup for dinner?  Take a few extra minutes to double your recipe.  Take the leftovers and freeze them in 2 cup portions to use for individual servings for a quick lunch or dinner.

What do you do to save time in the kitchen??  I’m always looking for better ways to do things!

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