Often when I am sharing my viewpoint on cooking and eating (healthful, natural foods), someone will say to me “well, that sounds good, but I can’t do all that ‘from scratch’ stuff because I just don’t have the time.” I used to feel the same way!
Over the last 5 or so years, I have learned to think through things when I am cooking to come up with ways to prepare in advance so I have the convenience of packaged items, but without having to pay the extra money for it or compromise on the quality of the food item.
I’ll give you a couple for instances:
*Bacon Bits—Have you read what is in some bacon bits? It’s been awhile, but I seem to recall there were a lot of stuff in bacon bits that are less than natural. Instead, next time you are cooking up bacon, reserve some pieces, crumble them, pop them into a storage container with a label, and freeze them. Voila! Bacon bits ready to go whenever you need them.
*Quick Rice—A food blogger friend of mine was lamenting that often times when she is ready to cook dinner, she *wants* to use brown rice, but the 30-40 minute cook time isn’t realistic to getting dinner on the table in time. Solution? Cook up a big ole’ batch of brown rice to al dente and freeze it on a tray like this:
Once frozen, you can break it into pieces and store it in a freezer bag until you are ready to use it. Once you need it, place the desired amount in a microwave safe dish with a tablespoon or two of water and microwave it for a couple minutes, stirring every minute or so. It will be ready quicker than you can say “minute rice,” and is so much healthier and less expensive. (Side note: you can also buy prepackaged frozen brown rice at the grocery, but you will pay a premium for it)
*Taco Mix—Here is a link for my homemade taco mix: Click here. It is super easy to make, can be doubled, tripled or made in huge amounts to store in a container. It features less sodium, fresher flavors, no preservatives and is so much more cost effective than the little pre-made packets.
For those of you thinking that you can’t possibly get into the groove of preparing things ahead of time, I challenge you to just tackle one item. You can freeze bits and parts of almost anything…I have talked about freezing chili peppers, chopped onions, cooked beans or lentils on this blog, but the sky is the limit.
Next time you are cooking, say, rice, cook 2-3 times the amount you need and freeze it. Once you realize how wonderful it is to have things at your fingertips, you’ll be hooked!