If you usually dine out or rely on take-out to make life easier, adjusting to cooking and eating at home more can take time. Yet in addition to slowing down and gaining perspective about what’s really important in life, I think one of the best things that has come out of the coronovirus outbreak is that people are probably eating more family meals together.
Related: 9 Benefits of Family Meals That Are Backed By Science
While there are easy ways to feed your family well when you’re stuck at home, if you don’t like to cook, or think cooking is too difficult, takes too much time or simply isn’t worth it, you may still dread it or avoid it altogether.
Take heed. Cooking doesn’t have to be tough or time-consuming.
Here are 2 of my best cooking tips that will make life easier during these trying times—and allow you to enjoy the people around your table.
COOKING TIP #1: MAKE LIFE EASIER BY MAKING DOUBLE
Although my husband and I cook dinner almost every night, we also plan and prep ahead of time to make life easier.
We make large batches of food on the weekends, before the kids wake up or after dinner. While we don’t usually make meals and freeze them—which is a great way to have healthy meals on hand too—we make several large portions of:
- Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, butternut squash, etc.)
- Grains (brown rice, quinoa)
- Beans and lentils
When vegetables and grains are already cooked, it’s so easy to add a protein and quickly get dinner on the table.
When time allows, I also make gluten-free bread, muffins and egg “muffins” for breakfast, and healthy cookies and energy bites for my kids’ snacks. I also keep washed, peeled and cut up fruit on hand in clear, glass containers that I pack for school lunches or serve for snacks.
With the kids at home now, there’s no doubt your schedule will be unpredictable and your days will be busy. Yet if you can carve out an hour here or there to cook extra portions, it will make life easier.
To save even more time, make use of your appliances like an InstantPot, rice cooker, pressure cooker, or slow cooker so you can set it and forget it. Or use a sheet pan to make easy, delicious meals in no time.
COOKING TIP #2: KEEP IT SIMPLE
If you have the time and are inclined, by all means, try some new recipes and cook with your kids.
Yet one of the best cooking tips to make life easier is to stick to the basics and avoid overthinking dinner.
Have a list of easy, basic meals that call for a handful of simple ingredients and recipes that take 30 minutes or less and put them into a regular rotation.
Here are some ideas:
- Roasted salmon or another safe type of fish for kids
- Frittata or quiche
- Roasted tempeh or baked tofu
- Egg “fried” rice
- Salad with hard-boiled eggs and avocado
- Baked chicken fingers/nuggets
- Pasta and veggies
- Whole, roasted chicken
- Veggie or bean burgers
- Sausage and peppers
- Chili (meat or vegetarian)
Also, when you have leftovers, repurpose them into other meals or put out a buffet and let kids choose what they want, which is a great way to encourage healthy eating habits.