Go further with food by cooking more at home and finding ways to prep meals and snacks ahead of time. This will make it easier to eat smart and reduce food waste. Our Better Pantry series showed you healthy and low-cost ingredients to keep on hand. Today, we’re sharing strategies for cooking quick meals with those Better Pantry ingredients and time-saving approaches to meal prepping.
Step 1 – Planning
Planning is always the first step in eating and cooking smart. Whether you are planning a menu of dinner meals to feed your family throughout the week, a list of your favorite Better Pantry ingredients to keep on hand, or a few go-to recipes featuring your favorite Better Pantry ingredients, you’ll want to take some time to plan out your strategy. Our blog posts (linked above) are a great starting point, but feel free to reach out to us with any questions as you work through your personal approach. Just comment on the blog post or our Facebook page!
Build Your Own Recipes
When you first start learning to cook, following recipes helps you figure out cooking techniques and tasty ingredient combinations. As you get more skilled in the kitchen, you can start to improvise more, substituting different ingredients to find your own favorite version. Our Build Your Own recipe series is a great starting point for mixing and matching different ingredients to create your own wraps, pasta dishes, smoothies, and more.
Find Your Go-To Recipes
Most people have about 10 recipes they cook over and over again. Planning your Better Pantry around the ingredients for those meals means that you’ll always have a meal you can whip up quickly with ingredients you likely have in your kitchen on any given night.
Some ideas for go-to recipes:
- Honey Mustard Pork Chops
- Chicken and Broccoli Crustless Quiche
- Chicken and Rice with Salsa
- Quick Spinach and Turkey Lasagna
- Tuna Salad
- Baked lentils with cheese
- Super Stir-Fry
- Zesty Spinach Omelet
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Fall Vegetable Skillet
- Oven Roasted Vegetables
- Garden Vegetable Wrap
You’ll find more details in the post, but there are several ways to meal prep to save time and reduce food waste. You may want to start by cooking a double batch of a freezer-friendly recipe and serve one now and freeze one for later.
If you’re comfortable with building your own recipes, batch cooking different ingredients to mix and match throughout the week is another good approach. This works for meal ingredients, like a large batch of beans or roasted veggies, as well as for grab and go snacks. Washing and portioning out fruit or sliced veggies like carrots or cauliflower florets, unsalted nuts, or whole grain crackers and cheese makes it easy to serve your kids healthy snacks when they’re hungry or to take to work with you for an afternoon pick-me-up. I also like prepping a salad each week as an easy way to get extra veggies with meals. Try a homemade salad dressing while you’re at it and you may never go back to store-bought again!
There are many ways to go further with food by planning and prepping meals and snacks ahead of time. Start with one or two ideas and see how they fit with your lifestyle. Keep tweaking your approach until you find the right combination to help you eat smart, cook quick and healthy meals on busy nights, and reduce the amount of food wasted in your kitchen. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas or help answer any questions you might have. Chat with us in the comments here or on Facebook!