Prepare food ahead

There’s no need to give up on healthful eating when time is short. Just plan to take some shortcuts to save time and energy.  Tips from Families Food and Fitness:

  • Plan for quick preparation: Choose simple-to-prepare recipes. Include the ingredients on your shopping list so you have them on hand when you need a quick meal.
  • Plan for pre-preparation: Brown and freeze ground beef; cook, chop, and freeze chicken for later use; make and freeze soup stock in ice cube trays; dice and sauté onions and peppers, and freeze in freezer bags or freezer containers.
  • Plan ahead: Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator a day or two before it’s needed.
  • Prepare double portions: One to cook and serve and the other to freeze for later use.
  • Plan for leftovers. Prepare enough for more than one meal. Cover, label, and refrigerate leftovers to serve on leftover night. Use refrigerated leftovers within four days or freeze them for serving later if that’s not possible.
  • Buy prepared food that will help you save time: Consider grated cheese, bagged salads, roasted chicken, or shredded cabbage. These foods are more expensive, so you must balance out the savings of time versus the extra cost.
  • Cook when you can. Plan to cook now, serve later.
  • Use quick cooking methods for food preparation: Broiling, grilling, stir-frying, and microwaving save time. Don’t waste time and energy overcooking foods.
  • Use your slow cooker. Prepare food for cooking in the slow cooker in the morning, cook it while you’re at work or busy, and it’s ready when you are. Follow your slower cooker's directions for use.
  • Limit choices: For example, avoid cooking two different meats for supper when one protein source is all that is needed.
  • Stock up on foods that are quick to prepare and have many uses: Consider spaghetti sauce, rice, salsa, cheese, canned fruits and vegetables, and tortillas.
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