If you’re anything like me, you’re always short on time. So, 20 steps to dinner on the table is not an option… ever. Not only am I short on time, but I like to enjoy the food I’m eating. And since two-a-day takeout meals from Whole Foods salad bar (or whatever) aren’t exactly in the budget, I wanted to share some of my best hacks to #lovehowyoueat without spending hours in the kitchen. Hopefully, adopting even just one or a few of the below will help free up some of your time (and mental energy) for other more important things. Here ya go:
Buy pre-washed greens. I don’t love spinach (personal preference), but baby kale, arugula, and mixed greens are some of my faves. If they’re washed and ready-to-eat, you’re more likely to eat them and they’re less likely to go bad than options you must wash yourself. This also accelerates salad assembly, if #BASlife (BAS = big ass salad) is your thing.
Invest in a salad spinner (for the greens that you don’t buy pre-washed e.g. romaine). Save time, paper towels, and hassle. Save even more time and pre-wash for a few days at a time. Store in a Ziploc with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
Buy pre-washed/chopped veggies. This convenience typically costs, but if your budget allows and you know yourself well enough to know that you’re not one to wash/chop yourself, it’s worth it (I think) if it means you eat them versus not.
Keep your freezer stocked with frozen veggies. Roast, steam, stir-fry, or prep however you like, but these are clutch for when you’re short on time, low on groceries, don’t feel like cooking, or anytime. My weekly staples include bell peppers, cauliflower rice, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and haricot verts (they’re thinner than green beans and roast well). Not sure how to prep ’em? Check out my Instagram feed!
Use my 2×2 Method to prep your midday meal. Whether you work in an office, from home, on-the-go, not at all, are a student, or just interested in gaining a little time back in your day, prepping two meals at a time helps me save time, energy, and money.
Prep protein in bulk… Keep it plain and flavor as you go with things, like fresh/dried herbs, spices, and low sugar condiments. Examples: Chicken, ground turkey, grass-fed beef, chicken or pork sausage, egg bake or hard-boiled eggs (eat at least some of the yolks), salmon burgers. NOTE: If you’re buying conventional animal products, lean cuts are best.
… and/or stock up on minimally-processed convenience options for protein in a pinch. Pair with veggies and a fat, carb, or both #doyou for quick meal assembly. Some of my faves are below:
- Rotisserie chicken
- Canned tuna – I love the Wild Planet Foods brand. It’s pricier than others, but also wild, sustainably pole and line-caught and high in EPA + DHA Omega 3 and I almost always buy mine on sale and in bulk. Safe Catch is another high quality option, but I have not yet tried it and so cannot speak to it personally.
- Protein powder – This is by no means required, but if it’s something you know/think could help you, the most economical approach is to buy a tub. If needed, portion out single servings yourself for on-the-go. If the individual packets work better for you and you can afford them, do that. Regardless of which you choose, remember that supplements, including but not limited to protein powder, are only as good as the food they’re supplementing.
- Jerky/jerky bars – I love Chomps, Steve’s Paleo Goods, and DNX (use code EMILY for 20% off & free shipping). There are plenty of other brands out there, but it’s important to read nutrition labels and avoid added sugars. Sugar is naturally occurring in some foods (e.g. fruit) and, in moderation, this is fine. Added sugars listed and/or disguised as such in ingredient lists, however, are something I reco my clients do their best to limit/avoid.
Turn the oven on once and prep ALLTHETHINGS. I cook almost everything at the 400F and adjust cook time accordingly. An example of what any given “prep” might look like for me (quotes because, other than lunches for my four- day office week, I don’t prep meals ahead of time; rather menu prep):
- Chicken: 30 minutes or to internal temperature of 165F (slow cooker: 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low)
- Spaghetti squash: 40 minutes sliced in half the long way, face down
- Roasted veggies, to desired crispiness (I like crispy, so usually 30-40 minutes-ish; the smaller the pieces, the less time it takes)
- Salmon: 20-22 minutes for one piece
- Egg bake (written by me for my friends at Vukoo Nutrition)– an #EmTribe fave.
Protein smoothies + protein bars. Real food always trumps, but these can make for a quick meal replacement or snack on-the-go.
Grind your coffee beans the night before. If you have a programmable pot, use it!
Keep a running list [of items you need] on the fridge. This helps minimize trips to/from the store so that you’re not running out every time you need something. On that note – If you have an Amazon Prime, use it! I am not domestic and hate errands (other than grocery shopping), so totally love the one-click, delivered straight to your door option whenever possible.
Invest in a slow cooker and/or Instant Pot if you don’t have one already. An IP is definitely on my Black Friday list for this year, but I often prep the crock pot the night before, throw it in the fridge overnight, set it to low when I leave for work the next morning, and dinner is ready when I get home. #winning
Learn to love leftovers. I’ll often cook double of whatever I’m making for dinner and take leftovers for my work lunch the next day (if it’s not a #5 from above kind of week). Or, I’ll prep enough for two dinners and alternate days (e.g. option #1 Monday + Wednesday and option #2 Tuesday + Thursday). This can be a great option if you’re someone who craves nutritional variety.
Use the dishwasher… if you have one. This sounds silly, but you wouldn’t believe how many people I know that don’t! Wash big or handwash-only type stuff, but other than that, load it up. It’s also likely more economical than letting the water run while you wash everything by hand.
Which of these tips did you find most helpful? Did I forget something? Let me know on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram (@iamemilyminer). I’ll re-post some of my faves so that we can all benefit!
As always, if you have a question, shoot me a DM – it’s my fave way to communicate and I love hearing from y’all! If you’re not on Instagram (you can create an account for free and keep it private, if you just want to follow), you can always message me directly on my Facebook biz page or email me. 🙂