Home-cooked meals seem to be harder than what they really are, especially when you’re starved for time plus you have a hungry family to feed. Earlier this year I realized I was spending a small fortune on takeout and I wasn’t really happy with what I was feeding my kids. I wanted to change that and find a way to not stress out about dinner.
As a busy working mom, I’ve discovered most times it really is easier and quicker to just prepare a home-cooked meal than to order takeout. I know dialing a restaurant that delivers gives us a break once in a while, but even in the best scenario, it will take them at least 20 minutes to prepare your order. A homemade meal takes a lot less to prepare when you plan ahead and keep a well-stock “Cantry” — a pantry filled with canned foods like canned tuna, beans, tomatoes, corn, peaches, pineapples…the list goes on and on! I know the vegetables and fruits are flavorful because they were canned at the peak of ripeness. Added bonus: when you cook at home, you know what is on your children’s’ plates and it’s easier to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need.
Here are a few ways cans get you cooking in less time than a pizza delivery would take.
Homemade meals are easier than what you think 1 of 8
Just click through for 7 tips to make your life easier when preparing home-cooked meals.
1. Plan a weekly menu 2 of 8
Planning is a busy mom's best friend, even when it comes to dinner. That way you'll know what to shop for and you won't even have to face the dreaded "what's for dinner" question at 5 pm. If you're too busy to make your own planner, just use the free ones available on several websites or the templates that come with Microsoft Office.
2. Before you leave for work, prepare some kind of protein 3 of 8
This is a huge timesaver and will ensure you can prepare dinner in a few minutes. Just add seasonings, a marinade, a glaze or sauce and grill or sautÃ©. You can even leave chicken breasts or tenderloins marinating in a sealed plastic bag before heading out of your house in the morning.
3. Use canned veggies to cut down on prep time 4 of 8
Using canned corn and peas, for example, comes in handy when I am preparing vegetable fried rice at the last minute. Cans store well so I always have them on hard. And you can just drain and rinse! Then add to the rice or stew.
4. Add flavor and variety by using different sauces and marinades 5 of 8
A few favorites to add on chicken breasts or filets of fish: honey and soy sauce, olive oil with soy sauce and Italian seasonings, cilantro and lime juice, plus the always reliable garlic powder and salt.
5. Recycle leftovers in creative ways 6 of 8
Use yesterday's chicken to make a chicken salad by adding cubed apples, lettuce and low-fat mayonnaise. Or simply add it to fried rice with a few canned veggies, such as corn, carrots and peas.
6. Keep a well-stocked pantry or âï¿½ï¿½cantryâï¿½ï¿½ 7 of 8
By having the basics handy, you can have peace of mind knowing that even if you forgot to plan tonight's dinner, you can whip up something at the last minute — like vegetable fried rice, hearty soup, chili, black bean tacos and more!
8. Don’t forget about dessert! 8 of 8
Sliced bananas with canned sweet condensed milk is a delicious and really quick dessert, for example. You can also bake a fresh pie in minutes if you use a pre-made crust and fill with canned cherries.