I am one busy woman, and I bet you are too. If you know me, you know that cooking and meal planning are high priority for me and I am hell bent on making almost all of my meals come straight out of my kitchen. The more I cook the less tolerance I have for overly salty, fat laden takeout. I want to know exactly what is in my food and how it is prepared. I want vegetable heavy dishes. No restaurant is going to tell me that or do that for me. It's all on me.
Life gets in the way for all of us and I certainly have days or weeks when cooking feels like a real drag. After all, not only do I have a career, I have kids to look after, a dog that needs a lot of walks, chickens that need tending, a garden that needs maintenance. Oh, did I mention the meal planning and grocery shopping. Yeah, the cooking part can feel bigger than me. And besides, is anyone else doing the cooking? No, that's all me.
On the days that I feel like cooking is going to get the best of me, I have an action plan. Here are three ways that help me keep my motivation in the kitchen when I am just too tired, or too busy, to cook.
Cook Dinner In The Morning
Clients are always surprised when I suggest this. To me it's a no brainer. My kids now wake up for high school when it is still dark out. By the time they leave for the day, the sun is barely out, but I am wide awake. In fact, I have learned that my most energetic time of the day is the morning and I have a key pocket of time before my day even begins. I take advantage of this time to prep vegetables and get my dinner almost complete. By evening I am either reheating or finishing my meal.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Roast two chickens at once. Monday's roast chicken dinner is suddenly chicken enchilada night on Tuesday or Wednesday. Or next days chicken salad for lunch. A pot of brown rice on Monday can be used for shrimp fried rice on Tuesday. You got the point. I always think ahead to see how I can make two meals out of one.
Make Double and Freeze
This is a secret weapon of successful meal planners. Make a pot of chili and double the recipe. Freeze the other half. Your exhausted self will thank you when all you need to do it pull that chili out of the freezer and defrost. Dinner is served and no one will be any wiser. Do this for soups, casseroles, grains, anything that will freeze.
Now I want to hear from you! What tips do you use when you feel to tired and busy to cook? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Heather Carey is a Culinary Nutritionist who has combined her unique experience as a professional chef with her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition to provide coaching, counseling and programs designed to educate individuals and groups about nutrition through hands on experiences with food. Heather teaches people the practical skills needed to eat more healthfully, from nutrition therapy, shopping tours, food preparation to growing your own food. Consuming a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods has become a mission for Heather, both personally and professionally, and she strives to show people how to change their diets for their best health.