Try these time-saving cooking-from-scratch tips for preparing healthy meals for the family fast!
We all know that cooking from scratch is much healthier than eating prepared or takeout foods, but who has the time? Even if you’re a full-time homesteader and don’t have an outside job, your schedule is always crammed full with an ongoing and never-ending to-do list – on top of all of the myriad unexpected things that come up throughout the day that you have to deal with (unexpected weather events, sick animals, pests eating the garden, etc.).
Preparing healthy, homemade meals for the family can sometimes seem like a chore – or even an impossible task. However, it doesn’t have to. There are lots of ways to make cooking from scratch simpler, easier, and faster.
This podcast episode from Pioneering Today shares some helpful tips for saving time when preparing meals from scratch. Here are 3 simple ideas to implement today:
1.) Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry
You can’t make food from scratch if you don’t have the ingredients to do so. Knowing how to substitute ingredients helps when you run out of something, but you need basic ingredients to begin with.
Having a properly stocked pantry will also save you time and money from running to the grocery store for one item (which always turns into more).
2.) Learn to Substitute
…If you keep the basics on hand, you can use substitutes for a lot of foods.
For example, most recipes call for some kind of fat. I know I can substitute melted coconut oil, butter, avocado oil, olive oil, or even applesauce or pureed pumpkin in place of a specific fat.
My general rule of thumb is to use coconut oil in cakes and muffins, but for things that are free-form like cookies, the coconut oil makes them spread out too much, so I stick with butter.
If the oil or fat ratio calls for 1 cup, I use 3/4 cup of coconut oil due to its lower melting point. I don’t like olive oil in baked goods, but I like it for salad dressings or grilling…
3.) Plan Meals In Advance
Meal planning helps you see the meals that will use the same ingredients and incorporate batch prep where possible.
Whenever I make dinner, it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be using some diced onions, minced garlic, diced celery, and/or carrots. Because of this, I know at the beginning of the week I can chop up extra of these items and store them in containers in the refrigerator and they’re ready to go when I need them.
Yes, this will take a little bit of extra time upfront, but then you’re only washing the cutting board and knife once, you’re only getting these ingredients out once, and all those extra minutes add up.
We have found that meal planning makes a huge difference for our family. Not only can you prepare some ingredients ahead of time as she mentions above, but we save SO much time during a busy week if we’re not dithering around for ages about what to have for dinner. Plus, we can do all the grocery shopping on the weekend after we plan out the next week’s menu, and pick up everything we’ll need for that week’s meals in a single trip.
Listen to the full episode for more tips:
While cooking at home will always take a bit more time than purchasing pre-made meals, it’s well worth it in the benefits it provides to your family and your health. Make these tips part of your regular routine, and you’ll find it gets a lot easier to fit healthy, homemade meals into your schedule.