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4 Simple Solutions to Make Cooking Easier & Quicker

Sabrina Hafner | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | 20 Something Nutrition 

Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be quick, simple, and convenient! While cooking is one of my favorite activities, there are times when the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. With many of us busy during the week, time-efficient and simple ways to speed up the preparation and cooking process may be useful. Therefore, I have come up with 4 simple tips to make cooking easier and quicker that have been helpful for me and my clients.

Make a menu

    Spending just 15 minutes each week to make a menu is a great way to save yourself some time during the busy work week. Do this once a week on a day you plan to shop for groceries, so you are able to get everything you need for the week ahead. 

    The first step when making a menu is to figure out what you have in your pantry, then thinking of recipes based on your interests and what ingredients you have. For the ingredients you don’t have on hand, write them down in your notes section on your phone or on a piece of paper. I like to aim for 3-4 different meals so that I have some variety during the week. 

    Ingredient prepping

      I like to spend one day a week (typically on the weekends) preparing the ingredients so I can make quick meals during the week. Ingredient prepping is different from meal prepping since I am only gathering and organizing my ingredients.

      For example, I pre-chop and store my vegetables in clear containers, cook my starches such as rice, pasta, and quinoa, as well as marinade my protein. This process typically takes me 30 minutes depending on the variety of ingredients. 

      Tip: while you prepare your ingredients, multitask with something enjoyable to do! Get your laptop and watch an episode of your favorite show or tune in to your favorite podcast episode or music playlist. This helps the time go by in an enjoyable way. 

      Place prepared ingredients in clear containers

        By placing meals and ingredients in clear containers in your refrigerator, it allows you to view all the options you have when you need ingredients to make a meal. My clients tell me that they are more apt to snack on chopped vegetables or incorporate more variety of ingredients into their meals when it is prepared and visible at eye level. 

        Use frozen ingredients 

          There is a common myth that frozen vegetables are less healthy, which is far from the truth. Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen at their peak of freshness, which lock-in their nutrients until you are ready to cook with them. Freezing them preserves their quality, keeping them just as they were when they were first picked, without the need for preservatives. Another bonus of buying frozen vegetables is that they already come sliced, chopped, spiralized or diced, which saves you more time in the kitchen. I recommend using frozen vegetables if you were cooking them or incorporating them into smoothies. 

          I truly hope these tips help you during your busy week! It has definitely saved me and my clients lots of time and energy in the kitchen. 

          About Sabrina Hafner, RDN, 20 Something Nutrition

          I am a full-time campus dining dietitian for UMass Amherst, known for being #1 dining program in the country. In my job, I pretty much work in a living laboratory where I impact thousands of students every day by providing healthy, sustainable & delicious foods while promoting health and wellness on campus. On the side I see private clients, typically new grads, who are seeking to make healthier changes in their busy lives. It’s rewarding to work with individuals going through two huge life changes—entering college & entering the work force. I enjoy helping them make their transitions seamless by working with them personally and through social media. 
          You can find me on Instagram @20something.nutrition. I hope you DM me with any questions or if you want to just follow along— I share more information about nutrition tips and day-to-day things. 
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