Being’ time-poor’ is reported to be a major barrier when it comes to deciding to cook meals at home instead of buying ‘fast food’. Food bought at fast food outlets is usually high in fat, salt and sugar – not very helpful if you are trying to stay at a healthy weight and protect your health.
Nutrition Australia has included some time-saving ideas on the recipe pages of this meal planning tool.
8 Top Tips to help you save time in preparing and cooking meals:
- Plan your weekly menu – think about how much time you will have available to prepare meals and choose meals that suit
- Leave a note on the fridge that lists some easy food prepartion tasks that could be done by others if they arrive home first eg preparing vegetables or marinating meat
- You can use frozen or canned vegetables if you don’t have time to prepare from fresh ingredients. These are already chopped so can help you save time
- Try using a slow cooker – especially for nights when you arrive home late or if you will be ‘on-the-run’ and needing to go out again. With electric slow cookers, you can put a tasty casserole on in the morning and it will be ready and waiting when you arrive home. You will only need to add some rice, pasta or a starchy vegetable (eg sweet potato) and a quick cooking green vegie (eg steamed broccoli or green beans)
- Cook in bulk and freeze leftovers – this gives you cheap, easy meals when you are in a hurry or feel too tired to cook. When you cook up a large meal, portion it out into smaller sealed containers to store by freezing. Meals that freeze and reheat well include: savoury mince, curries, stews, casseroles, soups, pasta sauces, rice dishes, meat or fish patties
- Plan your weekly menu so that it includes a main item that can be ‘re-invented’ later in the week. For example: The meat sauce from spaghetti bolognaise on Monday night could be used for beef burritos with salad on Wednesday night . . .
- While fresh always tastes best some processed foods can be a good back up when you are running short of time eg your home made tomato passata could be replaced by bottled or canned tomato-based pasta sauce
- If you have a family and they are old enough to cook, ask someone else to prepare the meal if you know you are going to be home late or have little time