Healthy Eating Tips/ Healthy Kitchen

5 Tips for Busy Cooks

Pantry staples -grains, beans, pasta

Everyone is too busy these days—including me. Many people say they are too busy to cook, but no one seems to be too busy to eat! This is often remedied by a lot of eating out, take-out, and make-do meals. I’d like to encourage people cook and eat at home, so here are 5 tips for busy cooks, some tried-and-true tips for making cooked-from-scratch meals a daily reality, even after the most exhausting days:

  1. Plan three full meals for the week ahead, allowing for two nights of leftovers. And do so BEFORE you go grocery shopping to prevent running back and forth to the store all week for ingredients. There is nothing worse than walking into the kitchen after a long day without a clue as to what you want to make. I try to practice what I preach, but whenever there is a week that I’ve left unplanned, I really regret it! Just 15 or 20 minutes of meal planning per week saves lots of time and simplifies your life immeasurably.
  2. On Sunday, try to prepare a couple of basics for the week to come. Cook some plain brown rice (or other grain), bake some potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash. Bake a quick bread or muffins, or prepare a good pasta sauce. Knowing that you have even one item that’s already prepared when you enter the kitchen at 6:00 is a sweet feeling, and the rest of the meal then comes together quickly.

    Lemony Blueberry Muffins

  3. Once a week, make a big one-pot meal that can stretch to two nights-a hearty soup or stew, chili, a casserole, or something that can be prepared in a Crockpot or other slow-cooker. Then, all you need is a bountiful salad and a simple fresh vegetable dish to accompany the meal.
    Lentil soup1
  4. Keep it simple! You need not spend hours cooking or use dozens of ingredients to create tasty meals. put post-its on your favorite quick recipes in your top go-to cookbooks.
For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, please explore VegKitchen’s Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Stacey
    May 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Nava, is there an online menu planner that you recommend?
    Thanks!

  • Reply
    Nava
    May 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Stacey, I don’t know of one, but I keep meaning to present a weekly menu plan on VegKitchen’s home page! One of these days I’ll get around to it …

  • Reply
    Dana
    January 28, 2013 at 8:15 am

    There is an online menu planner I like. You just copy and paste the recipes in and it creates a shopping list for you, etc. The bonus is that it’s totally free!! It’s Say MMM. I have it on my phone too so I can pull it up at the grocery store.

    • Reply
      Nava
      January 28, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Thanks so much for this tip, Dana. I’ll look into this more so I can recommend it to VegKitchen readers.

  • Reply
    Ilene
    May 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    I came across this today and it was a good reminder. Made some rice and cut up veggies so at least Monday won’t be so hard.

  • Reply
    Nava
    May 31, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    It’s true, Ilene — even seemingly small things like this can make meal prep so much easier after a long day. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Joy Plummer
    December 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I got a BIG rice cooker, cook a big batch of rice or millet or barley – whatever I fancy – and then freeze them in 2 1/2-cup servings.

    • Reply
      Nava
      December 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      That’s a great idea, Joy. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Diana
    February 16, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I have discovered sofrito, which is basically chopped, sauteed onions done ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Doesn’t it seem like EVERY recipe starts with sauteeing chopped onions? Feels so luxurious to have that step already done.

    • Reply
      Nava
      February 16, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      That really is a useful thing to have in the fridge. It goes with so many things, and is a great topping for grains, pizza, potatoes …

  • Reply
    Leah
    February 17, 2014 at 5:39 am

    On Sundays I like to make roasted sweet/white potatoes, roasted broccoli, a quinoa version of fried rice with lots of veggies, and then a big pasta dish like spaghetti. This way I have lots to choose from for lunches and dinner for the next couple of nights. Then I usually make another big pot meal on Tuesday or Wednesday night to get through the rest of the week. Like the article said, just add a salad or something quick on the side! I save so much time and money this way and eat healthy all week 🙂

  • Reply
    Nava
    February 17, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Leah, these are great suggestions, thanks for sharing. It’s amazing what preparing just a few basics can accomplish!

  • Reply
    Emily Cullen
    February 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Check out The Happy Herbivore for weekly nutritious and delicious meal plans. Happyherbivore.com

  • Reply
    Amanda
    February 17, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I spent a weekend pre-coking nearly 30 meals that I then vacuum packed and froze.. Nearly a month later I still have three left an a couple of single serving ones – there are evenings when it’s just lovely to know that I can pull something out of the freezer and have a well balanced meal ready in about an hour!

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