My family is busy, very busy – much in the way I imagine your family to be busy. We work, we volunteer for local charities, we raise our son, we homeschool, and the list goes on. And when I’m terribly busy, and undoubtedly overwhelmed, I find that my cooking goes astray, and we’re tempted to eat out far more often than we should. But, there’s a few things I’ve come to rely on busy days (weeks, months, years?) that help keep me sane, and help me to get wholesome, nourishing meals on the kitchen table.
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Use Your Slowcooker
We rely on the slowcooker in my kitchen, using it to make perpetual broth, long-simmered stews, chili, soup and roasts. I prepare the meal the night before and keep it in the slowcooker’s insert. The next morning, I add water or broth, and plug it in. By the evening, our dinner’s already prepared for us.
Make Room-temperature Yogurts
Whereas most homemade yogurts require keep the yogurt at an elevated temperature for an extended period of time, room temperature yogurts require little more effort than whisking starter culture with milk, and letting it sit on your countertop for a day or so. You can get my favorite easy homemade yogurt recipe here.
Roast a Chicken
I make my easy roast chicken recipe, it comes together with only about 5 minutes active time. We eat enough for dinner, pick off the meat for leftovers, and then make perpetual broth that we dip in and out of all week long.
Focus on Easy Meals
When we’re very busy, we focus on super simple meals: veggies, meat, ferments. One of my favorites is Hamburger Salad – just brown ground beef, serve it over fresh greens and veggies, and dinner’s ready.
Freeze Meals in Advance
When you have extra time, consider preparing casseroles or one-dish meals to freeze for easy thawing later. Lasagna, gratins, bean dishes and casseroles all work well.
Plan Meals Ahead
I also plan meals ahead (you can check out Nourished Kitchen Meal Plans here). This prevents me from visiting the supermarket for last-minute ingredients. Everything is planned ahead, and that makes shopping, preparing ingredients, and prepping meals a whole lot easier.
Save on Prep Time
Once we’ve done our shopping for the week, or picked up our CSA for the week, I spend some time peeling, chopping and preparing all the ingredients at once. By taking the time to chop a weeks’ worth of carrots or onions at once, all the prep work is done by the time you’re ready to start cooking, making it a lot easier to get supper on the dinner table.
Need More Time Saving Ideas?
If you need more time-saving ideas, be sure to check out Real Food for Busy People, an online cooking class with over 50 video tutorials by some of your favorite real food bloggers. Real Food for Busy People covers how to turn a frozen pot roast to a fully cooked dinner in about an hour, how to shop the farmers market to save time and money, how to make fermented salsas and condiments in under a minute and a lot more. Check it out here.