Cooking home cooked meals three times a day can feel overwhelming.
It’s easy to fall back on processed food or takeout when it feels impossible to cook yet another meal, especially on a busy weeknight.
Over time, after lots of trial and error, we’ve developed some shortcuts that make things more manageable.
Here are three things we do to save time when cooking plant based meals at home.
1) Make extra
When you’re cooking staples like quinoa or beans that can be used in various ways, always make extra. Cook a big batch with minimal seasoning and store or freeze portions to use in other recipes.
If you need one bell pepper for your recipe, chop two. You can use one and save the other for another recipe later in the week, or freeze it to grab when you’re way to busy to prep everything fresh.
This also works for complete recipes. Double a favorite soup recipe and freeze portions for easy lunches or weeknight meals.
Always make enough of a recipe for more than one meal. The way I see it the time in the kitchen isn’t worth it otherwise!
2) Make the most of your oven
While cooking on the stovetop often requires standing over your food, stirring and checking, roasting is pretty hands-free.
We often rough chop veggies like sweet potatoes and broccoli and toss them in the oven, freeing us up for 30 minutes of playtime with our daughter.
We take a few seconds to turn the pan halfway through cooking depending on what it is, but other than that it’s a great low maintenance way to cook.
3) Prep breakfast in advance
Variety is nice, but making something new for breakfast every day is just too much to ask for our family. We make a large baked oatmeal twice a week, and this feeds my husband and daughter all week (I usually eat lunch or dinner leftovers for breakfast – another time saver).
They might mix it up a bit with some fresh fruit, nuts, or peanut butter on top, but the base is the same – just cut a slice, warm it up and breakfast is ready.
Oatmeal is loaded with nutrients on its own, and the toppings make it even more balanced and filling.
Bonus: Use prepared foods
Sometimes everyone is exhausted and hungry and we just need to get dinner on the table stat.
This is a great time to use minimally processed prepared foods. This includes frozen vegetables, pre-chopped refrigerated veggies, frozen cauliflower rice, pre-cooked quinoa – you get the idea.
Prepared ingredients like these may help get you through a busy night when you would normally end up going rogue.
Always check labels to make sure you know what you’re getting. Lean toward options with minimal added salt, sugar, and oil.
Preparing more than you need and storing portions for future use, making use of your oven for less hands on time, being happy with less variety, and using prepared foods where it makes sense can help make healthy eating doable every day of the week.