14 kitchen hacks to save time and stay healthy

by Jennifer Bowden / 19 April, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - Kitchen hacks to save time

Photo/Getty Images

Is lack of time wreaking havoc with your diet? Try these time-saving tips for healthy eating.

About a quarter of us say lack of time is a barrier to eating better; it’s one of the most commonly mentioned obstacles. Long work days, parenting and household duties can leave us with little time and energy to prepare nourishing home-made meals.

Thus, into our lives slip processed foods, convenience meals and takeaways. They’re often quick, easy, cheap and filling, but they don’t promote good health, because most processed meals are higher in energy, sugar, sodium and saturated fat and therefore less nutritious than home-cooked ones.

A healthy diet is possible without spending hours in the kitchen if you devote a little time to planning and preparing meals. Once that becomes routine, you’ll find you have to expend considerably less time and effort to produce good food.

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I don’t even have time to start the planning.’ Often when we say we’re too busy to cook, we mean it’s not a priority – and sometimes that’s a perfectly acceptable explanation. I could say I’m too busy to clean up my messy kitchen drawer, but the truth is it’s simply not that important to me. So what about healthy eating for you?

Try saying this aloud: “Healthy eating is not a priority.” If you’re not comfortable with that statement, because healthy eating is a priority for you, then make sure it is by scheduling time to get started.

1. Plan

Set aside 10-15 minutes this weekend to come up with main meals – your easy family favourites – for the coming week. This will save you time and stress.

2. Double up

Cook two batches of every meal – whether it’s beans, mince, chilli, casserole, sauces, soups or grains (rice, quinoa). Eat one on the day and freeze the other.

3. Create versatile meals

Find basic recipes you can enjoy in a number of different ways. For example, a mince dish to use as a base for a shepherd’s pie, tacos and quesadillas; and roasted chicken to eat with root vegetables, in a salad, and shredded in sauce over rice.

4. Create spin-off meals

Save time by planning ahead for your next meal each time you cook. Cook an extra chicken breast or steak, or boil half a dozen eggs, that you can use in sandwiches or salads for lunch or as the basis for a salad dinner the following night.

5. Transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch

Use leftover meat, cooked veges or salad as fillings for a wholegrain wrap, for example.

6. Think small

Stock up on small vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, baby beetroot and carrots, pickled onions, olives, radishes and baby-leaf salads. Then you can quickly throw a salad together without chopping or cutting.

7. Use frozen vegetables

They’re nutritious and ready for cooking.

8. Buy prepped fresh vegetables

They save time, whether it’s pre-chopped pumpkin or packaged salad greens.

9. Grate rather than chop

Quickly add fruit and veges to a dish by simply washing and grating them rather than chopping and dicing.

10. Stock up on time-saving staples

Keep wholegrain pasta and cans of no-added-salt tomatoes, lentils and beans in your pantry for adding to casseroles.

11. Let time do the work

Using a slow cooker saves you the bother of having to cut up and brown meat; a large piece that has simmered for eight hours can be shredded with a fork and served in its juices.

12. Use your slow cooker for breakfast

Put oatmeal or porridge ingredients into the cooker in the evening and they’ll be ready by morning.

13. Opt for one-pot meals

Casseroles and stir-fries made in a single dish reduce clean-up time.

14. Eat quicker-cooking grains

Quinoa, for instance, takes about 15 minutes to cook and is more nutritious than white rice.

Remember, if healthy eating is a priority for you, schedule time this week for meal planning, work on establishing a meal-preparation routine and make a start on batch-cooking healthy dinners.

This article was first published in the March 31, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

The enduring sandwich: What's not to like about bread and fillings?
94342 2018-09-23 00:00:00Z Food

The enduring sandwich: What's not to like about br…

by Margo White

Despite an apparent backlash against bread – against carbohydrates and gluten – the sandwich endures.

Read more
Humanity is on 'the highway to digital dictatorship', says Yuval Noah Harari
96527 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

Humanity is on 'the highway to digital dictatorshi…

by Andrew Anthony

The author of worldwide bestsellers Sapiens and Homo Deus says our free will is at stake. We talk to Yuval Noah Harari about his new book.

Read more
Why there's no 'clash of civilisations' between Islam and the West
96558 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

Why there's no 'clash of civilisations' between Is…

by Yuval Noah Harari

There is just one civilisation in the world, writes Yuval Noah Harari, and the West and Islam are joint participants in it.

Read more
The Kiwi cicada expert who's just 11 years old
94985 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Science

The Kiwi cicada expert who's just 11 years old

by Ken Downie

Hamilton entomologist Olly Hills isn’t in high school yet, but he’s already a world expert – and he wrote a book.

Read more
Thackeray's Vanity Fair gets a clever update for the millenial age
96633 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Television

Thackeray's Vanity Fair gets a clever update for t…

by Russell Brown

A new TV version of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 19th-century satirical novel taps into today's celebrity-Instagram culture.

Read more
The debate over the Serena Williams controversy was a dialogue of the deaf
96659 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Sport

The debate over the Serena Williams controversy wa…

by Paul Thomas

Serena Williams’ US Open outburst was unbecoming but the umpire made a mess of his response.

Read more
The classical blokes saluting unsung women composers
96670 2018-09-21 14:16:06Z Music

The classical blokes saluting unsung women compose…

by The Listener

The suffrage celebrations get a soundtrack from all-male ensemble NZTrio.

Read more
Labour MPs stand behind Jacinda Ardern's action on Meka Whaitiri
96630 2018-09-21 07:31:30Z Politics

Labour MPs stand behind Jacinda Ardern's action on…

by Gia Garrick

The public will have to wait to see a report into an assault claim against MP Meka Whaitiri, who was yesterday stripped of her ministerial portfolios.

Read more