Chances are that making more home-cooked meals was right up there among your top five New Year`s resolutions. But despite the benefits of cooking more at home - saving money and eating more healthily, to name a couple - it can be a hard resolution to keep given the busy lives we all lead. Saturday may find us at the market, optimistically filling our carts with meat, fish, and fresh produce, but by Wednesday we are serving another meal from take-out boxes.
Don`t despair. It can be done, with a little planning. While there are some extreme solutions to this age-old problem (like mega-cooking, which involves marathon cooking for several days to make a month`s worth of meals), most experts agree on the basics.
Keep a well-stocked pantry so you can whip up meals without having to go to the store for every last ingredient. Pantry items should include canned tomatoes, tuna, beans, grains, sauces, and spices.
Use high-quality commercially prepared foods when you can. Fully cooked chicken, shredded cheese, and diced canned tomatoes will all save you valuable time in the kitchen.
Consider preparing commonly used items like diced onions and minced garlic and freezing them in single-serving plastic bags. A quick homemade meal seems much more manageable when some of the labor-intensive work is already done.
Cook twice as much on weekends and freeze the extra meals for a ready-made dinner during the week. A little bit of extra work when you have more time on the weekends will pay off greatly on weekday nights when you`re exhausted and the last thing you want to think about is what`s for dinner.
Make It Last
Prepare recipes with leftovers in mind. If you only cook chicken breasts, you probably won`t have any leftovers at the end of the meal. Cooking a whole chicken on the weekend will ensure that you have enough leftovers for chicken tacos one night and salad with warm sliced chicken another.