Try these nine tips to save you time in the kitchen, so you can spend more time enjoying your summer.
1. Put your slow cooker to work.
Prepare chicken, beef, or pork for wraps, salads, and sandwiches.
2. Use your microwave.
Try a baked potato bar. Cook the potatoes in the microwave. Top with shredded reduced-fat cheese, non-fat sour cream, chopped chives or green onions, bacon bits, chili, or other toppings your family enjoys.
Create a burrito and warm it in the microwave. Each person can create their own by filling a whole-grain flour tortilla with shredded chicken or beef, black or refried beans, fresh veggies like green, red, yellow or orange peppers, green onions, grated carrots, olives, shredded cheese, etc. Then wrap it into a burrito shape, and microwave for a minute or two.
3. Create a main dish salad.
Chinese chicken salad, taco salad, chef’s salad, grilled chicken salad, shrimp or seafood salad, etc.
4. Whip up a stove-top dinner.
Grilled sandwiches, BLT sandwich (while the turkey bacon is cooking, toast the bread and slice the tomato), quesadillas, omelets, ham fried rice, fajitas, sloppy Joes, pancakes, French toast, waffles
5. Chop or spiralize raw veggies in advance.
Having veggies ready to go in the fridge makes preparing a healthful meal easier, whether it’s a sandwich, salad, quesadilla, omelet, or stir fry. Personal favorites include bell peppers, green onions, jicama, celery, carrot, zucchini, and tomatoes.
6. Grill it!
Heat up the grill instead of the kitchen to cook your favorite meats, vegetables, and even fruit.
7. Use frozen vegetables.
Stock up on frozen vegetables that can be added to what you are making quickly. They are easy because they come chopped up and ready to go. They also come in a variety of mixes, so you can get a variety of veggies in just a few bags. Stir-fry mixes can significantly reduce prep time.
8. Use convenience products when the price is right and time is scarce.
It is often less expensive to prep foods yourself at home, but pre-cut produce and pre-cooked poultry and meats can be time savers. Weigh the cost to your budget and the time saved to decide if the trade-off is worth it.
9. Serve a low-fuss fruit salad.
Use raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, red and green grapes, bananas, canned pineapple chunks, strawberries, and apple slices in bags to prepare an easy fruit salad.
Ann Henderson, Extension Associate Professor for Utah State University in Box Elder County
Magee, E. Guide to a Healthy Kitchen: 10 Tips for Fast Cooking. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/10-tips-for-fast-cooking?page=1 on May 16, 2016.
Meyer, H. 4 Tips to Cook Dinner Faster. Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_and_techniques/4_tips_to_cook_dinner_faster?page=2 on May 16, 2016.
Orlov, Alex. (2015) 12 Brilliant Meal Prep Tips to Help Free Up Your Time. Retrieved from http://dailyburn.com/life/health/meal-prep-ideas-healthy-eating/ on May 16, 2016.