Eight years ago, when I switched to a plant-based diet with lots of raw foods, I was surprised to discover just how much time it saved me in the kitchen.
Using the old kitchen strategies I had always followed, I would spend hours preparing meals that would take just five minutes to eat. With this new diet, I often spend fewer than five minutes preparing my meals—and it has made my life so much easier.
As a nutritionist, one of the most common concerns I hear from my clients is: “I want to eat healthy at home, but I don’t know how to organize my kitchen and plan meals. It’s all way too overwhelming to manage.”
With the right strategy, we can greatly reduce or even avoid that unnecessary kitchen stress and instead save ourselves a lot of time, whilst eating delicious and healthy food at home.
Here are my four strategies to help save time in the kitchen:
1. Plan, plan, plan.
Although planning sounds like work, it actually helps save a lot of time and stress in the end!
Planning helps us avoid situations where we have to rush to the local store to get urgently-needed ingredients for dinner, only to discover that the store is all out.
Make a list of the meals you want to eat for the whole week. Take into account how many calories you plan on consuming each day, then divide the day and the calories intro three meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
My husband, my daughter, and I all eat a primarily raw, plant-based diet, which includes plenty of veggies and some nuts and seeds. With this lifestyle, we need to make sure there’s enough fresh produce in our house each week.
If you’re consuming large amounts of fresh fruits and veggies in your diet, buy a bit more food than you need in case some of your produce goes bad.
2. Choose quick preparation and cooking options.
Gone are the days where we spend hours preparing a meal just to eat it within a few minutes.
Meals that require minimal preparation are simple to put together, but can also be super tasty and nutritious.
For example, blending a green smoothie takes just minutes, but counts as a full meal.
Here’s a quick and nutritious smoothie recipe to get you started:
Rawk Your Day green smoothie
2 cups chopped mangoes
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ head Romaine lettuce
2 cups fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1. Place ½ cup of water, bananas, mangoes, blueberries, romaine lettuce, spinach, and chia seeds into a blender.
2. Blend together until smooth.
3. Drink and enjoy!
Salad dressings can be made fresh by blending a few simple ingredients; for example blending avocado, tomato, lime juice, and cilantro makes a nice guacamole dressing.
Steaming is another quick cooking option. Chop veggies, steam them to desired texture, then place in a bowl and pour a healthy dressing or sauce over them.
3. Wash your produce in a batch.
By planning your meals ahead of time, you can figure out the quantity of veggies and fruits you’ll need per day. Then you can wash them as a group the night before, making sure they’re ready to eat the next day.
Dry produce by placing on a towel first, then storing in a container.
Pop your prepared fruits and veggies in the fridge and they’re ready to eat when you are.
4. Prepare ingredients in advance.
Each day, look ahead at your plan and figure out what ingredients you can put together beforehand.
For example, and depending on what you’re eating, prep for breakfast, lunch, and dinner first thing in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about it later on.
Place ingredients in bags or containers so you have easy access to them throughout the day.
These smalls steps can help us keep our kitchens organized, while also saving us precious time. This means less hassle and more enjoyment, not just in meal preparation, but also in the time we spend eating.
Author: Yulia Tarbath
Image: Author’s Own; Webvilla/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Taia Butler
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman