Life is a juggling game, at least it feels that way sometimes. Between your career, your family responsibilities, keeping on top of your chores, and squeezing in a measure of social life, it can seem as though cooking is out of the question.
This is especially true if you work for yourself as a small business owner, whether it’s a side hustle or your primary source of income.
You can find that every moment of spare time gets redirected to running and developing your business, leaving no time or energy for home-cooked meals. Instead, you find yourself calling for takeout yet again.
The Benefits of Home-Cooked Meals
First off, it’s best to tackle the “why”. Why bother cooking meals at home when ordering takeout is quick and takes almost no effort?
First of all, home-cooked meals are so much healthier than relying on takeout or reheating a ready meal. If you’re looking for a way to lose weight or simply live a healthier lifestyle, then cooking is the way to start.
Food cooked in a restaurant almost always comes packed with high amounts of sodium, fat, and calories. Admittedly, this is part of the reason that takeout tastes so good. But it also means that you have very little control over what you’re eating.
While the odd takeout isn’t a problem, eating takeout regularly can quickly add up to a very unhealthy diet.
The average fast-food order contains over 1000 calories, which is a huge proportion of your recommended daily intake. But it doesn’t feel as though you’re eating as much as you are, which is why it’s so easy to eat too much.
The health benefits of cooking at home are often enough to convince most people to make the change. But cooking at home is can also save you money.
A stock of basic ingredients is typically much cheaper than a takeout meal, and you can usually eat the leftovers of your cooked meal later on.
Finally, despite what many people think, cooking can be quicker than ordering takeout. When you order food, you either have to wait for it to be delivered or get it yourself.
So how can you cook more quickly? Here are some tips to help out.
Plan Your Meals and Grocery Shopping
Sometimes, you can be more delayed by working out what you can cook with the ingredients in your house than the actual cooking process itself.
This might be what puts you off cooking, as you end up having to spend precious time agonizing over your cupboard.
Or, if you do find yourself in the shop, you aren’t sure what you want or need to buy. You then spend more of your time trawling through the shelves and buying whatever takes your fancy.
This can be an expensive, frustrating, and time-consuming way to shop. Even worse, you might get home and realize that you’ve forgotten about one vital ingredient or two.
Thankfully, there is a way to mitigate these issues. Simply put, the answer is planning. Plan your meals for a week or two (depending on how bored you get by the same meals) and figure out what groceries you need for those recipes.
Write a shopping list, with a budget, and stick to it. Include snacks, breakfast items, and other essentials so that you’re never lost.
When it comes to planning meals, some people like more variety than others. It’s often a good idea to plan for a week or two and keep that routine for a few months.
If you want to switch it up, then there’s nothing wrong with that, just make sure you’re ready.
Another way to go about this is to take up meal prepping. When you meal prep, you spend one day cooking for the entire week.
Some meal preps mean that you eat the same thing every day, while others allow for more variation. Whatever method you choose, you’ll find that it saves time and money.
When finding recipes, make sure to choose quick, simple, and tasty meals. For example, this homemade sesame chicken recipe is delicious and can be ready in half an hour. It also scratches that takeout itch.
If you find that you don’t have time for grocery shopping or meal planning, then a meal kit subscription might be ideal for you.
Essentially, a meal kit service provides a recipe and the ingredients to follow it and delivers it right to your door. Some subscriptions may include every meal of the day, including snacks, while others focus on the main meals.
These meal kits do tend to cost more than it would to simply buy the groceries yourself, but you are paying for convenience. Generally, the recipes are easy to follow and quick to cook, which makes it such a good option for a busy lifestyle.
The recipes also include nutritional information about the meal, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
You also have a measure of control over the meal, as while they provide the ingredients in exact amounts, you can omit some ingredients or add something that you already have in the cupboard or fridge to make the meal more to your liking.
While using speedy recipes or meal kits will cut down on your cooking time, another important thing to bear in mind is your cooking habits.
If you tend to grab all of the ingredients as you go and chop them just before you need them, you might end up having to pause cooking so that your preparation can catch up.
Even worse, some cooks make a huge mess that they’ll only have to clean up later.
But this isn’t the only way to cook. Read your recipe before you start and gather the ingredients that you’ll need. Get the preparation done before you start cooking so that you can focus on one thing at a time.
Finally, try to tidy up food scraps and bowls as you go. You’ll thank yourself later.