STEP TWO – Cooking Fast or Using a Slow Cooker -
Plan your cooking approach – Slow or Fast. When planning the meals for the week, it is a good idea to create a chart listing each day's menu and each days' schedule. Here's a smart tip…on busy days rely on the meals either started in the morning (in a slow cooker) that will just be waiting when you get home, or frozen meals you've cooked ahead and can heat up in minutes. Plan dinners that take 30 or more minutes to cook and serve for the days when you have time to be home, prep and cook before dinner is served. The recipe may say 30 minutes, but trust me…by the time you prep food, cook food, get the table set and food served, it's more like 60 minutes!
Slow Cooking – Using convenient appliances such as slow cookers and microwaves can be a huge time saver when planning and preparing meals. There are many delicious and healthy recipes that can be started in the morning and left to cook all day in a crock pot or slow cooker. These are great choices for working families. Beef stew, chicken “Pot Pie”, chili, chicken cacciatore (an Italian chicken stew) are not only great slow cooked, but you can throw in the vegetables with them and have a complete meal waiting for you by dinner time. Makers of these slow cookers usually include a recipe book and have recipes on their websites.
Find Slow Cookers
In addition, making slow cooked meals ahead of time on the weekend (whether it's stewed in a pot on the stove or roasted in the oven) and heating them in the microwave is a great way to stretch both your food and your time. Just about any meal, though, can be made ahead at home, and single serving microwave safe containers allow every member of the family to eat on their own schedule.
Fast Cooking – Here's an example list of meals that can be made in 30 minutes, provided your protein is defrosted ahead (take it out of the freezer the night before and put it in the fridge). If you're feeling “chef fie” there are an abundance of “30 Minute” meals to be discovered ;-), but don't get
overwhelmed. A decent seasoning salt mix can make the simplest of foods tasty and interesting!
Chicken breast cutlets, rice and a vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus that can quickly be roasted in the oven
Stir-fried shrimp or beef with vegetables like green and red bell peppers and mushrooms with rice (you can chop/slice your vegetables the evening or morning before and put in the fridge in baggies.)
Steak or hamburger that can be cooked on the grill or stove while you bake potatoes in the microwave and either, then steam green beans in the microwave or quick saute them in a skillet.