Switching to a Real Food lifestyle definitely takes some getting used to. No more running out to get pizza, stopping by McDonald's, loading up on prepackaged frozen dinners.
I could really spend my whole day in the kitchen making sure my family eats right. But who has that kind of time?
There are a few things I do to ensure that I use my time wisely and efficiently to save time in the Real Food kitchen!
1. Use meal plans and plan ahead.
Planning ahead is key for preparing Real Food. Yes it takes a little time, but it SAVES gobs of time in the end. Find a day that works best and plan out your week's meals (or if you are a real go getter, the month's!). You can plan your shopping and your prep around this plan. Ordering meal plans can be valuable too. One that I really like is the Real Food Meal Plans from Holistic Squid. Her plans will appease almost any dietary style: paleo, vegetarian, traditional, gluten free!
2. Buy meat in bulk and freeze.
It took my family awhile to break down and get a separate freezer for my garage. This has been a godsend. I get most of my meat from a local farm (find one in your area) and I love having a freezer full of meat to pull from for easy meals. I also use the freezer to store summer fruits and bone broths for future use.
3. Use warehouse stores like Costco.
You can find Real Food at Costco! Oftentimes these stores carry a variety of healthy foods. Stock up on organic frozen vegetables, grass fed butter, coconut oil, organic nuts and more.
4. Use online resources for shopping.
This might be my most favorite tip to save time to ensure I have access to plenty of Real Food that can be shipped to my door. My favorite services are:
- Thrive Market – amazing discounts on all of your favorite healthy living brands
- Amazon Prime (click for a free 30-day trial)
One of my biggest pet peeves is going shopping only to not find the brand or the item I am looking for. Sure I could drive all over town looking for the item but who has time for that?
I can sit on my phone, in the parking lot, and click-click, order items to be shipped directly to me, often at discounted prices and free shipping!
Don't forget to check online for other sources: grocery delivery, grass fed meats and more!
5. Get the right kitchen tools.
Having the right appliances in the kitchen can really help. I wrote a post on my top 10 kitchen tools to have a few months ago. Every kitchen needs good knives, cutting boards, food processor, stainless pots, cast iron skillets and more! Investing in quality kitchen tools will save you time and energy in the long run.
6. Batch cook.
This is a huge time saver! Making rice? Make a whole bunch of rice and keep in your fridge for the week. Same with beans. Make a large bowl of tuna salad or chicken salad and use it for lunches all week. We often grill a bunch of chicken breasts or steaks and keep in the fridge. Then I can add to salads and wraps or make fajitas or tacos…the sky is the limit. If you are making dinner, double or triple the ingredients and freeze the rest. Same amount of labor but now you have dinner for 2 or 3 nights!
7. Get the kids to help.
My daughter is only 7 but she can be very helpful in the kitchen. If your kids aren't used to helping, there is a learning curve but once you have them trained, they can be little sous chefs! My daughter loves to peel potatoes and carrots using this palm peeler. I also let her chop vegetables using this utensil. She sets the table, unloads the dishwasher, even empties the dehydrator and puts the dried foods in containers. Kids can (and should) be very helpful in the kitchen and around the house!
8. Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals.
I love to take meals I make in the crock pot and prep them ahead for the freezer. It is so very easy! I even have used the technique for my Sticky Chicken Drumsticks. Essentially you prep an entire meal in freezer bags and when you are ready to eat them, you dump it all in your crock pot with a recommended liquid and voila…dinner is ready! If you need ideas, check out Freezer Meals: 39 Gluten Free Meals book!
9. Pre-prep fruits and vegetables.
This one is key. When I come home with gobs of fresh produce, I make sure to put everything away washed, chopped and ready to eat. That makes reaching in the fridge to grab some healthy snacks simple. It also makes dinner prep a breeze. Sometimes I even roast a batch of veggies to have them on hand to add to soups, eggs and other meals.
Still don't think you have enough time to prep and cook? Hire it out! No, I am not talking about a personal chef. See if you can find a college kid (check your local community college) to come over and prep veggies, recipes, freezer meals for you. For a few hours, you could have your week's worth of meals prepped for not too much money!
What are your favorite tips for saving time in your Real Food kitchen?? Let us know below!