8 WAYS TO MAKE COOKING EASIER AND FASTER

Let's face it, coming up with healthy, tasty dinner ideas every night can be challenging and nerve-wracking!


It's easy to fall into a slump when it gets to home cooking. We tell ourselves it's time-consuming, difficult, too much effort, or too much cleaning.


Sadly, home cooking is becoming less of a priority due to our busy lives, and processed foods and take-out more accessible and affordable than ever. Unfortunately, these foods are loaded with saturated fats, sugar, salt and other unhealthy ingredients, and it's more difficult to control portion sizes.


As a Health Coach, I'm on a mission to help people find their groove back in the kitchen, so they enjoy what they put on their plates and see the value their home-cooked, whole, real, fresh foods add to their life, health and happiness.


GET IN TOUCH to find out how we can work together to help you create easy, healthy and manageable meal options based on your needs and the foods you like.


In the meantime...Here are my 8 ways to make cooking easy peasy!



1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET


Cooking is an excellent opportunity to unwind, take your mind off work, put some music on and get creative in the kitchen. It's also a great time to connect and catch up with your partner and/or children, even if all they're doing is rinsing, chopping or keeping you company.

Preparing home-cooked meals is empowering as you control the quality and choice of foods you're using to nourish yourself and your loved ones.

When you view cooking as an act of love, more specifically self-love, you move from a place of "have to" to "want to".

Have fun with it! Don't be afraid to improvise on a recipe. Add your unique twist to it. Experiment, try new ingredients, make mistakes and keep practising. Not every home-cooked meal needs to be a Michelin star dish! ;)



2. HAVE A GAME PLAN


Having a plan or a rough idea of what you're going to cook during the week will save you the headache and loads of time trying to figure out what to make each day. It will also help you create a shopping list so you'll have all the ingredients you need AND save you from going to the supermarket after work every day!

Here is my number one tip!

Over the weekend, or whenever you have a gap, make a list of 10 - 15 (or more, even better) of your favourite go-to dinners or meals, ones you are familiar with and enjoy eating regularly (like every two weeks).

If you're struggling to get to 10 dishes, look for some recipes or ideas and inspiration HERE, on Pinterest, or in your favourite cookbooks. Be mindful and realistic of your time, ingredients and preferences...you don't want to pick anything overly complex and challenging that you're not used to cooking.

This list will be your MAIN MENU which you'll use to create weekly dinner menus. You can make 2 - 4 different weekly menus and mix and match them as you go along, considering your schedule, the ingredients you already have, and what you want to eat.

TIP / Save your MAIN MENU on your phone in NOTES. You can add links to recipes and photos. That way you always have access to all your favourite meals.



3. MAKE A SHOPPING LIST


The best thing about having an idea of what you're going to eat in the coming week is that it helps you create a shopping list!

Once you have an idea of what you'll be cooking, do a stocktake of your fridge, freezer and pantry and make a list of what you'll need.

TIP / Avoid going to the supermarkets when you're hungry, tired, and have no shopping list. It usually only results in a trolley full of bad choices, snacks + sweets, convenience foods and regrets later on!



4. ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE


Since the start of Covid, there has been a boom in online grocery shopping, and I never thought I would say this, but I am a fan!

It can save you time and money. You can be more focused, buying only what's on the list, without the distractions and temptations that supermarkets are so very good at.

Of course, the downside is that you don't get to select the items in person, but I find I'm only really picky with certain fruits and vegetables, and if I need something specific, I'll go to the shops.

Try to order your groceries on the weekend or at the start of the week. That way, it's one less thing to worry about once the week gets going.



5. STOCK YOUR PANTRY + FREEZER


Having a well-stocked pantry and freezer will make cooking at home a lot easier. You can whip up so many healthy quick and easy meals using pantry and freezer staples and adding a few fresh ingredients.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are often as nutritious, cheaper, and last longer. Keep in mind, they're not always the right choice for all dishes. For example, frozen cauliflower doesn't roast the same way as fresh cauliflower.

Here are some great Pantry + Freezer Staples to have on hand:

  • CANNED FOODS / Tomatoes, Coconut Milk, Beans + Legumes (Chickpeas, Cannelinni Beans, Butter Beans, Lentils)

  • GRAINS / Brown/Red Rice, Quinoa, Freekeh, Bulgar Wheat, Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free Pasta, Legume-Based Pasta, Green Lentils, Red Split Lentils, Wholegrain Oats

  • NUTS + SEEDS / Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Nuts, Nut Butters, Non Dairy Milk, Tahini

  • CONDIMENTS / Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Soy Sauce, etc.

  • FROZEN VEG / Peas, Broccoli (great for soups), Kale (add to soups, smoothies, stews), and other vegetables

  • FROZEN FRUIT / Organic Berries + Fruit (add to oats, smoothies or desserts)



6. USE HEALTHY STORE-BOUGHT SPICE BLENDS AND SAUCES


The trick to elevating home cooking is having a selection of spice blends and sauces to help you take even the simplest meals from zero to hero!

BUT using store-bought, processed products comes with the responsibility of checking the labels and being aware of the ingredients!


My rule of thumb is to go for products with a short ingredients list (relevant to the product) that contain ingredients you recognise and don't have any/many additives, preservatives, colourants and flavouring.

Another good rule is to check the first 3 ingredients on the label. Ingredients are listed from highest to lowest quantities. If the first ingredients include sugar, refined grains (like white flour), hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils, you might want to consider putting the product back on the shelf and patting yourself on the back for being an excellent health detective!

HERE are my go-to store-bought spices blends and sauces to help make cooking easier and faster.

As convenient and tasty as these sauces are, remember they are processed, so use them in moderation. Fresh is always better, and sometimes even a simple pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice is all a dish needs.



7. COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE


Cooking once and getting a few meals out of it makes you one very smart and very efficient home cook!


Cooking a big batch allows you to enjoy it for leftovers, or you can repurpose the cooked ingredients and create an entirely new dish (like I've done HERE and HERE using roast carrots).

Here are some cook once, eat twice ideas:

  • LEFTOVER GRAINS / like rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat, etc. The options are endless! Serve it as a side with curries or stews, use it in a salad, make a stir-fry or stuffed eggplants or peppers. Cooked grains are great to have on hand to bulk up any meal.

  • LEFTOVER ROAST VEGETABLES / Enjoy leftover roast vegetables as is, add it to salads, pastas, curries or stews. I love using leftover roast sweet potato or broccoli to make falafels. Another one of my favourite leftover dishes is making frittata with leftover veg from our barbecue dinners which often include, a potato dish and grilled veg (like mushrooms and broccoli)...yum!!!

Remember to store your food in an airtight, preferably glass, container in the fridge so it stays fresher for longer.



8. USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT


Meal prep and cooking is so much easier and efficient when you're using the right cookware, knives and equipment. You don't need a ton of appliances and gadgets. However, a few basics go a long way!


HERE are my kitchen essentials for smart and easy cooking.



DO YOU NEED A HAND IN THE KITCHEN? I'M HERE TO HELP!


If you're feeling overwhelmed in the kitchen, struggling to find the time or inspiration to cook, or don't know what to feed yourself or your family, then I am here to help!


GET IN TOUCH to find out how we can work together to help you create easy, healthy and manageable meal options based on your needs and the foods you like.


Love x Mila*