Food that’s cooked at home is healthier, fresher, more hygienic and more nourishing. Research finds that people who eat home-cooked meals on a regular basis tend to be healthier and even happier. Eating home-cooked meals five or more days a week is even associated with a longer life. There’s every good reason to cook your meals yourself.
But you’re too busy with work and zonked out to even think of cooking!
Cooking a nutritious meal at the end of a long and hectic day can seem like a daunting task. Eating out or ordering in might feel like the quickest and easiest option. In this digital era of mobile apps, it is extremely easy to order what you feel like eating – silently and seamlessly. It is an obscene luxury for a small fee that anyone, even the middle-class nobodies can afford to do. Like most cheap, modern luxuries though, there are trade-offs for convenient food which may affect your health adversely.
Armed with some simple kitchen hacks, cooking at home can even take lesser time than eating out or ordering in. There are plenty of quick, fuss-free and delicious meals you can cook at home in less time than it takes to travel to an eatery or wait for your meals to be delivered.
1. Meal Prep In Advance
Prepare all the elements of your meals ahead of time, so that weeknight dinners only need to be assembled and cooked. You could freeze raw minced meat mixed with chopped veggies in steaming plates or freeze marinated meats in freezer baggies for future cooking. Remember to freeze flat as freezing it flat takes less time to thaw than if it was in a rounded shape, and often stacks better in a freezer.
2. Cook ahead
Pick a day during the weekend to cook meals for the coming week or cook every other day and double up on your serving sizes. Store the dishes in glass containers and freeze them for your future dinners. Just thaw the frozen dish ahead of time, pop it into the microwave oven or reheat it in a pot.
3. Choose Passive Cooking Techniques
Kitchen gadgets like the slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker and air fryer are a great investment because the machine does the bulk of the cooking. While the machines get the work done, you can get some chores done, check your emails or enjoy an ice-cream. I love cooking porridge in the slow cooker at night so that we get to enjoy hot and fresh porridge for breakfast the next day. Slow cookers are designed to be left to cook for long periods of time, so it’s entirely safe to leave your slow cooker overnight if you’re out the house or if you’re at work all day, as long as you follow all the directions and the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. Peeling and Chopping Garlic
Peeling garlic is an unwelcomed task. But if you microwave the garlic for about 30 seconds and then try to peel, it is much easier and simpler. For chopping and mincing the garlic, I use a manual food chopper with hand pull / mini pull chopper. It gets the job done in under a minute without getting much stink onto my hands. This highly affordable chopper has just a few parts and can be easily washed.
5. How To Cut Onions Without Crying
Refrigerate onions for about 15 minutes before chopping to avoid irritation in your eyes.
You can also soak the onions in water and cut the onions later. Make sure to peel the outer layer before immersing in water.
Again, I use a mini pull chopper to get minced onions.
6. Choose pre-cut meats and veggies
If you’re not that great with a knife or don’t like chopping raw meat, buy pre-cut or pre-marinated meats from the supermarket. You can even opt for pre-chopped or pre-packed veggies for stir-fries and soups. They are slightly more expensive but they will pay for themselves with all the time you save from not having to chop.
7. Faster Defrosting
If you need to cook something quick but forgot to thaw the meat, try pouring white vinegar over the surface of the frozen meat. The vinegar will lower the freezing temperature of the meat, causing it to thaw quicker. The acid in the vinegar will break down connective tissues, which helps to tenderize the meat too!
8. Easy Reusable Wrap
Instead of covering your leftovers with single-use plastic wrap, use a shower cap instead! I collect free shower caps from hotels and use them in the kitchen. Unlike plastic wrap, a shower cap is quick and easy to apply, and you can rinse and reuse it many times.
9. Wealth from dinner left-overs
I always cook more for dinner so that our girls can bring the dinner left-overs to school for recess or lunch. Two very viable dishes are spaghetti Bolognese and stew. My youngest daughter loves these two dishes so much that she could have it for dinner and then for breakfast, lunch and dinner again the next day!
10. Make a “master” sauce
This is a sauce that can be used on everything and that can serve multiple purposes: it can be a marinade, a dressing, a sauce for a grain bowl, etc.
My 16-year old daughter has a very versatile all-purpose sauce composed of soy sauce infused with bonito flakes, kombu, anchovies, dried mushrooms, charred onions, garlic, scallions or leeks, a little sugar, rice wine or mirin and citrus juice. She makes a big batch and uses the sauce for stir-fries, soups, noodles, marinated eggs, chawanmushi, marinated crabs and much more.
Simple kitchen hacks can make your life easier and save a lot of time. Now that you know these simple cooking hacks, ace the cooking process with ease and confidence minus the frown.
Health Freak Mommy is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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