We all lead busy lives and sometimes at the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is spend a long time in the kitchen making dinner. Often it seems to be easier to go out to eat or stop and pick up something fast on the way home. Sound familiar?
There is a better way. It is possible to have delicious, healthy meals in your own home without spending a long time preparing the food. Of course, planning is key when it comes to making speedy, nutritious meals in the kitchen. I use a few specialty appliances to help me along such as a slow cooker and a rice cooker. I know, how does a slow cooker mean faster cooking? While it might take all day for your food to cook, the actual time spent preparing the food can be minimal.
If you don’t own a slow cooker, I highly recommend you add one to your birthday or holiday wish list. A feature I find highly valuable is that it is programmable and will switch to the “warm” setting once it has reached the end of its cooking period.
I make this Rotisserie-Style Chicken in the slow cooker. You can find many great ideas from that blog for creative ways to use your slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can roast the chicken in the oven on the weekend then shred up the meat to use in your favorite recipes during the week. I’m going to use the leftover chicken to make my Chicken and Tofu Enchiladas.
You’ll also find that a rice cooker is another great investment or present and they come in a variety of sizes. The beauty of the rice cooker is that you simply measure out the rice and water, put them inside and press the “on” button. That is it; it does the rest for you. It still takes the same amount of time to cook but you don’t have to worry about burning the rice or watching it closely. Many come with a steamer basket, so that you can steam other foods at the same time as your rice cooks. You can also use other grains such as quinoa or even oatmeal in the rice cooker. Conduct an internet search for using your rice cooker to make entire meals and you will be surprised with what you find.
From time to time, I make large batches of brown rice. I take out what we will eat right away and then I divide up the rest in freezer safe bags and store for later use. When you need some rice for a quick meal, you can defrost and warm up in minutes. If you do not want to purchase a rice cooker or don’t have room in your kitchen for another appliance, you can make big batches of rice on the stovetop or even in the microwave. Freeze the leftovers to keep on hand for other meals. Frozen vegetables are a real time saver for me. I do not have to do any washing or cutting; I can simply steam or stir-fry them as needed. Look in your local grocery store and you may be surprised at the varieties of frozen vegetables available. My local grocery store has a large selection of all kinds of vegetable blends as well as things like diced onions and peppers that are great time savers when you are in a pinch.
Bottled minced garlic is another one of my favorite time-cutting secrets. I buy it by the jarful and use it in most of my cooking. While some foodies and chefs would argue it does not provide quite the flavor of fresh garlic, it works just fine for my family and my busy schedule.