One of the most effective ways to improve your health is to improve your skills in the kitchen. By enjoying more homemade meals, you’ll naturally dine out less and eliminate a lot of unhealthy processed foods from your daily diet. Not only are people who eat most of their meals at home healthier, they also have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and save quite a bit of money annually. Who doesn’t want a thinner waistline and a thicker wallet?
Luckily, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen every day cooking perfect Martha Stewart meals. Listed below are 4 common cooking problems with simple solutions for saving time, while increasing nutrients, AND enjoying food more!
Problem Area 1: Proteins
Honey, do you want stiff-as-a-board-steak or a rubbery-chicken-breast?
If you tend to cook proteins poorly…
- Before cooking, pat protein dry and sprinkle with sea salt to promote flavorful browning.
- Brine or “brinerate” (brine + marinate) your protein the night before.
- Strike it hot! Preheat your cookware, broiler, oven, or grill ahead of time.
- Let food lie. Stirring prevents flavorful browning, making your meal mushy and bland.
- Give plenty of space between pieces. Overcrowding promotes overcooking.
- Use a Sous Vide Supreme. It’s impossible to undercook or overcook with this kitchen appliance.
- Use a slow cooker or crock pot and keep it on the “low” heat setting.
- Use a Thermapen, instant read thermometer, to track when your food is finished cooking.
- Give it a rest! Take your meat off the heat before it’s finished cooking and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
Problem Area 2: Vegetables
I hate the taste/texture of vegetables!
If you tend to cook vegetables poorly…
- Use the best quality ingredients you can find. Don’t expect to turn lifeless lettuce into an amazing salad.
- Prepare ingredients ahead of time so you’re not chopping kale, while the rest is burning in your skillet.
- Cut ingredients into similar size pieces to ensure everything finishes cooking simultaneously.
- Cook with a healthy fat, such as Kerrygold butter or unrefined coconut oil.
- Opt for gentle cooking methods, such as steaming, braising, sautéing or baking.
- Use a clear lid on your skillet so you can get a visual of when food is done.
- Cook veggies until fork tender, or a fork is easily inserted.
Problem Area 3: Variety
Hello, my name is ____ and this is what I eat every day of the week that ends with “y.”
If you tend to eat the same foods every day…
- Spice it up! Herbs, spices, garlic and onions are excellent for adding a tremendous amount of flavor.
- Find healthier alternatives. Swap wheat pasta for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
- Hit up the farmers markets to eat local, seasonal foods.
- Eat more vegetables with these creative tips!
- Use leftovers in creative ways.
Problem Area 4: Lack of Time
You need to spend more time in the kitchen if they know your name at the drive thru.
If you lack time…
- Buy pre-cut veggies or frozen veggies.
- Hire someone else to shop for and deliver your groceries.
- Grab a rotisserie chicken and serve with a simple salad.
- Make a quick protein shake.
- Toss together canned sardines with gluten-free pasta, pesto and cherry tomatoes.
- Use a slow cooker or Sous Vide Supreme.
- Try a simple sauté, stir-fry, broiler meal or these delicious dinners in a dash!
- Learn 5 quick go-to meals. Try this sample menu for “Fast-Paced Living.”
- Plan a weekend “power prep hour” and get the whole family involved.
- Cook in large batches so you have plenty of leftovers. Cook a HUGE tray of veg or roast a whole chicken.
This is my invariable advice to people: learn to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all–have fun. – Julia Child