Imagine this. You just finished a long day at work. You’re exhausted! You just want to go home, pour a glass of merlot, and crawl up on the sofa to watch your favorite TV show! Nice thought, except you come home most often just to do more work -- cooking.
Cooking may as well be another job, especially if you’re cooking for more than one. After that long workday, the last thing you want to do is to spend the evening slaving over a hot stove and then washing the dishes after that. What’s the resolution here? Meal planning.
1. Plan Ahead
It’s called meal planning for a reason! Consider planning your meals in your head by the ingredients you’ll use, how you'll set up your cooking station, how long it will take to prepare, etc. Planning all this ahead of time ensures that when you’re ready to cook, there’s no time wasted! CookSmarts(r) actually suggests having four to six pantry recipes in your back pocket that you can cook up anytime, and this goes for just about any recipe. It never hurts to jump into a cookbook for some recipes to keep on the back-burner!
2. Batch Cook
Meal planning doesn’t just mean planning for the week. You could plan for the next 2-3 weeks or even for the month! This means setting yourself up for success and ensuring the cooking session goes as efficiently as possible. Be sure to line up the best cooking tools - large pans, cutting boards, and your best, sharpest knives. Also, make sure you have your lunch containers ready and label them if you need to! It’s also helpful to clean as you go so you don't have to worry about cleaning up the mess afterward. (By the way, I prefer BPA-free storage containers.)
3. Make Meals That Will Make For Good Leftovers
Sometimes you may cook more than your stomach can handle and will need to store some leftovers away. Cook meals that are good for storing in a lunch container overnight and will still be good the next day. Some meals just don't taste the same the next day. For instance, salad often wilts sitting in all the dressing overnight. But grilled chicken can easily be heated up and eaten the next day, and it might even taste better than the day before if you’re lucky!
These three easy tips will ensure that you can get your meal planning done efficiently enough just to enjoy your evenings after work. Enjoy the night off, chef!