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Making Healthy, Good Food When You Don't Think You Have The Time

Making Healthy, Good Food When You Don't Think You Have The Time

One of the biggest reasons for the rise in convenience and takeout food is the feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day. If you're a working parent, you see your kids for about an hour in the morning. You then have a two or three hour window in the evening after work, before they go to bed. If you're getting home and cooking dinner, then that window can very quickly be erased.

If you're not a parent, the same still applies. Getting home from work, you're tired. You want to have something to eat and then unwind from the day's stresses. Adding an hour or two to the long working day to prepare, cook and eat a meal can feel like an added stress too far. And for these reasons, it has become common to grab something quick, convenient but less healthy on the way home.

It's fair to say that as excuses for convenience food go, wanting to relax with family and friends is a pretty strong one. Eating healthily is important, without a doubt. But it is easy to see why it would feel like a sacrifice too far if it means we can't enjoy home life. Even if you all sit together around the table while dinner is cooked, it can still feel rushed.

So What Are The Alternatives?

It's true that cooking after coming home from work is often an unattractive prospect. It's also true that too much convenience and junk food isn't good for anyone. But what do you do to square that circle? We need to work to make money so that we can put that food on the table in the first place - so the time concern isn't easily fixed. But that surely doesn't mean we should admit defeat and forget healthy eating?

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Although it isn't easy, the solution needs to involve finding a way that good, nourishing food is available shortly after we get home. Then we can eat well, look after our health and still have a home life. All of which sounds like a statement of the obvious - but how do we have that healthy food, happy home life and do it without a time machine?

The key, clearly, is to have as much of the work of cooking done as early as possible. This can involve a little bit of thinking outside the box. Creativity with recipes, versatility with cooking methods and a certain amount of delegation can all play a part. If done right, family mealtime doesn't need to be a rushed thing. It can be a sit-down meal around a table, with good food and relaxed conversation.


Use The Morning For Preparation

Various meals have several stages of preparation - you wash and peel vegetables, chop and season meat and so on. The more stages you have in a meal, the longer it will take. So if you have to do all of that after work, time is obviously going to be in short supply. In the morning, if you have time it is a good idea to do the initial stages of preparation. Chopped potatoes can be left in water until it's time to cook them. Meat can be marinaded, sealed and put in the fridge.

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In many ways, this is actually a better way to prep things. By marinading for some hours, the meat can become more flavorful. It can cut evening cooking time in half and leave you with a short job to do in the evening.

It's also a good idea to invest in a crock pot. This allows you to put food on to cook in the morning, and have it ready simply to serve when you get home. Delicious stews, such as this recipe from PaleoHacks, can paired with veg or rice that is quickly cooked in the evening.

Share Some Of The Workload

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There is no better way to pass on some of the secrets of the kitchen - and raise some budding chefs - than to have cooking help from your kids. Depending on their age, they can simply add some ingredients to a pot at the right time or switch the oven on. They can boil some pasta to add to a pre-prepped sauce. Then when you get home, all you need to do is plate up and serve.

Make Food In Advance And Store It

Many of us have freezers which we fill with simple food that we can use in a pinch. If you buy convenience foods that can be cooked quickly, the chances are they're loaded with sugar or other bad things. To be mass produced and stored the way they are, the manufacturers have to use preservatives. This means they're only okay to eat on rare occasions.

Better than this is to make the meals yourself, freeze them and then defrost before cooking. Foods like lasagne and chili really work well for this modus operandi. Usually, if taken out of the freezer the previous night and left in the fridge, they will be fully defrosted in the evening. If you have a kid at home who is old enough, they can put these meals on to complete cooking. Along with some rice, veg or bread they can be a highly nutritious meal.

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Of course, cooking food that is good for you and tastes appealing does take time. That time will need to be spent somewhere, but there are ways to ensure that it doesn't cut into that evening time. We can have the food we need and not miss out on the relaxation and vitally important conversation with loved ones.

Life always entails some compromises. If you need to take time at the weekend to pre-cook a few meals, or a bit of time in the morning to do the main prep for an evening meal, fine. It's better to do that than overload the evening, building up stress and losing out on a family experience. And most importantly of all, it's good for the health of all concerned.

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