While visiting friends and family this holiday season, I noticed a few things about having a real food kitchen (or about not having a real food kitchen). And it led me to think about my top tips to save time and money in the kitchen!
So many people say that eating real food, food that is less processed, organically grown, free of hormones and pesticides and nourishes your body is either too expensive or too time-consuming (or both). (Want to learn more about real food? Check out our Getting Started with Real Food page!)
This is not necessarily true.
Sure, real food does cost more money, however, often real food can be had on a budget (see how this blogger ate real food on a budget and this one completed a $600/month real food challenge). In fact, one study showed that eating real food, only costs $1.50 a day more!
And yes, eating clean, real, nourishing food and ditching the heavily processed foods does require a bit more time and effort and a change in mindset but most people can find a way to fit this into their life.
I hate wasting time…absolutely hate it! I like to be as efficient as possible in most areas of my life! When it comes to real food, I see so many people use their time in the kitchen inefficiently, scrambling to find something to cook each night, making recipes overly complicated, spending way too long in the kitchen after a busy day.
There are ways to more effectively use your time in the kitchen to not be tied to the stove, slaving away each night. Whenever you start to do anything more efficiently, it becomes easier, right? Living a real food lifestyle is no different. With a little bit of planning, you can spend less time slaving over a stove and more time enjoying your family!
Sure, real food can cost more money, especially at first. However, processed foods cost a lot of money too ($4 box of crackers? $5 box of cereal?). Any time I spend money on food, I try to think about how it will nourish my family's bodies. I'll take a $5 carton of nutrient dense pastured eggs any day over a $5 box of nutrient poor, chemical filled Fruit Loops any day of the week.
No matter what type of food people are buying, so much good food is thrown away that could be reheated, repurposed or frozen for later. Americans are the kings of food waste! What a waste of resources (both food and money)! Don't pour money down the drain or into the garbage can!
I try my best to not throw away food. Sure there are things I don't have time to eat, or forget about shoved back in the fridge, but I always try to use everything I have. Food can be repurposed, frozen, reheated in so many ways, there should really be no reason to throw things away!
I have two tips for you that can help you save time and money in the kitchen! These are tips I strive to use week in and week out. When I don't, I notice a big difference in my kitchen (and on my pocketbook).
Tip 1: Meal Plan
Meal planning is absolutely KEY to an efficient real food kitchen. I like to use a simple chart that you can easily download and print out. I sketch out my plan for the week. This helps me with utilizing food already in my freezer, refrigerator and pantry and let's me know what I need to get at the store!
Now I am the first to admit that this is a pretty basic chart. However, it helps me sketch out my week and saves me tons of time!
You can also purchase meal plans which can be very helpful too. Oftentimes these come with recipes for the week, a shopping list and more! Our favorite meal plan by far is Real Plans from Holistic Squid. Her menus are delicious and will appease a variety of dietary lifestyles.
Tip 2: Cook Once, Eat Twice (or Thrice)
My second tip is to cook once and enjoy the food at least twice, if not more. I often batch cook, which is to cook a lot of something and freeze or save for later. If I am making taco meat, I make enough for 2-3 dinners, freezing or refrigerating the extras. Same goes for soups, sauces, casseroles, beans, you name it!
Often we will cook a dozen burgers, 2 crockpot chickens, 2 baking sheets of roasted vegetables, etc., eat some for dinner and save the rest for later in the week. The meat can be eaten in soup, eggs, for tacos, stir fry, etc. and the veggies can be added to almost anything!
And don't fear leftovers! You don't have to have the same dinner for the next several night. Repurpose them! Leftover veggies can be added to bone broth for a hearty soup or to top a green salad or in eggs. Leftover meat can be added to a wrap or a sandwich for a nice lunch. Leftover grains and legumes can be used in many of the same ways.
These two tips are lifesavers for me in my kitchen! If you start to think outside the box, start cooking in bulk and repurposing your leftovers and plan your meals, I promise you will save a TON of time and money!
For more tips like this, be sure to check out my friend, Lindsey's, the Homemade Mommy, e-book, Real Food Survival Guide for Busy Moms! She is amazing….corporate woman and a homemade mommy!
“I work a full-time corporate job. However, I do work from home which has allowed me the flexibility to develop a real food cooking strategy that is efficient, simple and will work for others. So how do I find the time to cook real food from scratch without collapsing at the end of the day?” – Lindsey Gremont, author of Real Food Survival Guide for Busy Moms
How do you save time in the kitchen?? Tell us in the comments!