Follow these tips to easily make a homemade dinner every night and cut your family’s reliance on take-out and fast food.
With work, traffic, children and household chores dominating our time, it is often very hard to prepare a homemade dinner every night. In their publication The Demand for Food Away from Home: Full-Service of Fast Food?, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that 41 percent of all food spending was spent on eating out in 2005.
Between 2000 and 2020, the USDA predicted that spending at full-service and fast food restaurants are expected to rise 18 and 6 percent, respectively. Eating out and ordering delivery is easy to do but contributes to health problems like obesity and heart disease. Here are some tips to help you easily make a homemade dinner every night.
Pre-cut vegetables and meats
Sometimes the step that takes the longest are peeling and chopping the vegetables and meats. Save yourself valuable time by purchasing bags of pre-cut and peeled vegetables. Stir-fry leftover rice with a bag of pre-cut vegetables, egg and soy sauce and you have fried rice in less than 15 minutes.
Bags of pre-cut and peeled vegetables can be found in both the fresh and frozen sections of the supermarket. Many supermarkets also sell pre-cut meats, such as beef cubes and chicken strips, so that you don’t have debone and cut it yourself.
Choppers and peelers
If the cost of pre-cut vegetables is too high, you can still save time by getting vegetable choppers and peelers. Different kinds of peelers can remove skin and strip all kinds of vegetables and fruits. Williams-Sonoma has a set of three Swissmar Peelers that tackles everything from tomatoes to carrots. Some peelers, like Rachel Ray’s 3-in-1 Vegetable Peeler, clean, strips and digs out blemishes. This fruit and vegetable chopper from Progressive slices, chops and dices in one motion.
One pot meals
After prepping your vegetables and meats, concentrate on using them in one pot (or pan) meals. One pot meals means less time spent cleaning up. There are endless cookbooks and websites devoted to one pot meal recipes. The Food Network’s one pot meal recipes include chicken boudine and chicken stew. Save the fancy multi-course meals for the weekend when you have more time.
A crock pot for stews, soups and stock
Many one pot meals can be cooked in a crock pot. Throw in some vegetables, meat, herbs and some stock into the pot and let it simmer on its own while you spend time with the kids or do some chores. Also known as a slow cooker, a crock pot can be used to easily make traditionally labor-intensive meals such as beef bourguignon. Make long-simmering dishes, stocks, stews and soups on the weekend for use during the week. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has some great tips on how to properly freeze and thaw prepared foods.
Make cooking a priority
The most important step is to make cooking a priority. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day, penciling it into your calendar if need be, for preparing dinner. Make sure the fridge is always stocked with versatile produce and meats that can be used in a wide range of dishes. Armed with these tools, tips and some good cookbooks, a homemade dinner will soon be gracing your dinner table every night.