I love cooking. I really do, but after a long day at work, taking care of my toddler, dog and household, sometimes working out, running errands and/or [insert a billion other things that take over my life] it’s hard to make myself cook. I get tempted, and too often give in, to grabbing take out or something easy. Now if someone who loves cooking is feeling that, certainly those of you on the edge probably give in too.
That being said, I have figured out a few things that actually help me to make better decisions and make food at home, often healthy meals and very often fast and easy!
1. Do bulk cutting ahead of time. I’ve started to make it a habit to buy a 10-pack or so of chicken breast and chop it all up on the weekend, store in little freezer bags (1 breast per bag), and put in my freezer. I have found between the ick factor and the inconvenience of needing to wash a knife and cutting board, that is one of the biggest holdbacks from making myself cook. Plus having little baggies of chicken breast allows me to grab just what I need for my recipe and without any mess.
2. Cut up foods over time. When I am already cooking with fresh produce, I chop up a little extra and store it in te freezer. Sort of the same concept as above, but this time it’s just when I have extra or if something is about to go bad. For instance if I am cooking with half an onion or half a zucchini, I’ll cut up the whole thing, use half for what I’m making and toss the other half in a freezer bag. Then when it’s time for dinner I can just open them up and bake, sauté or whatever.
3. Double up slow cooker recipes. When you’re lazy, slow cooker meals are your friend! There’s nothing better than walking into your house after a busy day to discover your house smells amazing and dinner is ready. Yes! So when I prep a slow cooker meal, I’ll chop up double, add half in my crock pot, half in a freezer bag. I’ll hold off on liquid ingredients and such, but all the veggies and sometimes even mean depending on the recipe can go in ready for an extra lazy day when you’re in need.
4. Grab healthy premade meals. I try to stay away from foods that have a crazy amount of preservatives and all that, but having a few easy to throw together meals will really help you stay in. One of my favorites is the frozen bag of teriyaki chicken from Trader Joe’s. One bag comes with two packets of sauce so you can split it up or make it all. I just make it all and add in some frozen stir fry veggies and then take the leftovers for work the next day. Voila!
5. Grab pre-prepared produce. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m kind of cheap in this realm because I hate paying for someone else to cut up my produce when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself and paying half the price. It bugs. But here’s the thing, if instead I decide I’m too lazy to actually follow through I have rotten produce, wasted money, aaaand even more waste goes to me eating out. Nobody wins with that. I have learned there are a few staples I like to have so I actually eat what I buy. For instance, I love grabbing pre-made chopped salads that come with the toppings and dressing. I split those in two, sometimes add lunchmeat or chicken on top, and my hubby and I will each take one to work. Or I’ll grab broccoli slaw for an easy side salad. Fruits I try to mostly stick with ones I can eat without too much work cutting like strawberries, grapes and bananas. I’ll still grab plenty of others, but having a few easy, go-to meals allows me to hit my goals of saving money and eating healthy.
What foods help you stay in?