You’re on your lunch break drinking reheated coffee and an energy bar that tastes more like chocolate flavored chalk. You think, “This is awful, I should have made something better, but I never have the time”. Fast forward a few hours: You’re dragging your butt and looking forward to schlumping on the couch.
You are starving, your kids are starving, and your husband already has his finger on the dial to call for takeout. “Again! We’ve been ordering takeout for an entire week!” But you submit because you’re tired, the kitchen is a mess, and the kids are starting to complain. If only you could escape the vicious cycle of McMeals.
What if I told you that you could have a meal that would make any nutritionist jealous in only 15 minutes? There is light at the end of the tunnel. Getting a proper and delicious meal doesn’t have to be a major task.
Sounds bogus? Not at all. There are small tweaks anyone can do to their routine that can have a delicious and nutritious meal on the table in as little as 15 minutes.
Frozen is Your Friend
Not… unappetizing tater tots, burger patties and flavorless diced veggies. While those are still around, gone are the days where you are limited for variety. Now you can get almost every food group in the frozen foods section. There are a variety of precooked meats whole, sliced or minced like free range chicken, Angus beef, and wild Atlantic salmon. There is a wide variety of conventional or organic vegetables, fruit, and complex starches like roasted potatoes, and brown rice to complete your meal.
There is no shame is creating a meal entirely from frozen. In the time it takes to order takeout, you already have a balanced and nutritious meal ready. Compare a plate of lean chicken breast, a dollop of butter, with a side of steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes (from frozen) to a bucket of over fried chicken wings with side of greasy coleslaw. Which one is more appetizing to you?
Your Cupboards Should Look Like You’re Getting Ready for an Apocalypse
You can never have too many canned or Jarred goods. Seriously. The thought of it probably makes you cringe but it can be a life saver. Many cans are free of chemical lining, perfectly safe and delicious.
Not all canned foods are created equal when it comes to taste and texture. Potatoes, pasta, and other foods that get mushy easily are not the best choice. Good choices are beans (any type), tomatoes, peas, mini corn, and olives. Heck make a meal entirely from canned foods. I dare you.
Don’t Chop if You Don’t Have To
It’s rewarding to chop all your foods yourself but let’s face it, we don’t got time for that right now. You buy sliced bread and feel no shame about it. Why not outsource all the chopping and buy precut produce?
Any precut foods should be taken out of its packaging and wrapped in a damp cloth, paper towel or mesh container/bag to ensure it lasts for a week. When it’s time to cook or put on the plate, rinse if necessary and enjoy. Boom. A proper meal where you didn’t have to pick up a knife and chop till the wee hours.
The Grocery Store Savior
The not so secret meal time hack. Grocery store rotisserie chicken. No cook, versatile and delicious. You can just eat as is or you can muster up some energy and get creative. Make stir fry, tacos, soup, stew, pasta, whatever you feel like. If you ask nicely, the deli can cut it up for you, so you don’t have to do it yourself. Even better.
Automation and The Ultimate Kitchen Appliance
A pressure cooker (think Instant Pot) can make cooking meals enjoyable instead of a task. No need to hover over a stove, just throw in all ingredients and walk away. Not all meals can be made in a pressure cooker in 15 minutes, but many can with a few tricks to ensure a quick meal.
Rule of thumb, no large roasts, whole chicken or meat with bone as that usually takes a minimum of 30 minutes to properly cook through. Ground or shredded thawed meat is necessary for fast cooking.
Vegetables and starches cook faster than meat so choose ingredients that will hold up to high pressure for 15 minutes. That said, vegetarian meals can be made in as little as 5 minutes on high pressure, so having a meatless Monday can free up even more time for you.
Enter The Hot Water Dispenser
A hot water dispenser may not seem like a worthy tip for fast meals but don’t knock it just yet. Let’s say you want to make a quick pasta Bolognese or something less elegant like ramen noodles. Depending on your stove it can take up to 5 minutes or longer just to get water to a boil.
With an electric hot water dispenser, you can get hot water immediately in the pot getting the water to a rumbling boil in about a minute. When you are tired and hungry, that extra 5 minutes makes a big difference.
Practical and Delicious Meals Anyone Can Make
Imagine consistently making nutritious meals for you and your family without having to always surrender to fast food takeout. Imagine prepping meals without having to think about it. Imagine how much better you will feel, and your family will feel eating nutritious meals you made.
Make these small changes to your meal prep routine, and the vicious cycle of guilt, frustration, and feeling defeated will disappear. You will have a system that makes healthy meal prep easy, and manageable even for busy moms.