As a child, my mother cooked at home but used a lot of boxes and cans in her preparation. I mean frozen salisbury steak, canned asparagus and boxed mashed potatoes were a go-to meal for us. She did what she could with the resources she had available, but even as a child, I couldn’t help but think, “How are these potatoes coming from a box??”
What I really loved and lived for though, was Sunday dinners at my grandmothers house. Everything was made from scratch and took all day to prepare. I was always sure to stay close to the kitchen so I could serve my position as designated taste tester.
Fast forward to today when I am now a busy mother of two and I’m constantly looking for the happy medium. Food can’t take all day to prepare, but I love to make it look and taste like it did. Here, just a few ideas to get you started to using less processed food and cooking with more whole ingredients.
Meal Prep on Your Day Off
When you’re sitting on the sofa and binge-watching your favorite show, do your workday-self a favor and take a 30 minutes to chop some vegetables and marinate your meat. That way, when you’re working on a tight timeframe with kids eager to lend a hand, you’ve already gotten the hard work out of the way.
While cooking one meal, start some of the components for your next meal. This works especially well for things that don’t require a lot of hands-on attention, like roasting veggies or simmering beans.
Slow Cooker Meals
I present this option with a ton of caution. Slow cooker meals can quickly go from time-saving weeknight winners to unrecognizable muddled messes, so tread lightly. Look for meals that are typically created as one dish anyway like chili or soup. Be careful not to overcook, lest everything become mushy and without texture. Cook just one part of the dish in the slow cooker. Make the carnitas, then pull it out and combine it with freshly sauteed veggies and diced avocado. It doesn’t take much more time, but that differentiation among the ingredients makes all the difference.
Whatever your preference, do your family a favor that will benefit them in the long run and skip the cans and boxes.