Serving dinner for you and your family doesn’t have to be a struggle. But even with the best intentions, like buying delicious and fresh ingredients, busy lifestyles can get the better of us. Lack of planning, imagination and time takes over. And when you throw after school activities, work commitments and life into the mix, eating takeaway tends to be an easier and more obvious choice.
Home cooking naturally takes the win over takeaways. It’s cheaper and much better for maximising nutrition and quality, especially compared to junk food. With the launch of UberEats making it easy to order almost anything via minimal button taps though, more Australians are taking advantage of that ‘lazy meal’. It’s a growing obsession that’s costing a fortune. Through companies like UberEats and Deliveroo, Aussies are spending $2.6 billion each year for convenience (and not as healthy as you like to believe food!).
If you’re struggling to make fresh dinner every day, there are ways around it. Here are a few simple tricks to eat delicious, nourishing food – regardless of how busy life gets:
1. Prepare in Advance
A little preparation goes a long way. Maximise your Sunday afternoon by planning meals for the working week or pre-cutting vegies. Even preparing dinner the night before or in the morning can take pressure off come dinner time. Many of these meals can be doubled and freezed for lunches and additional dinner later in the week too.
Don’t be afraid to break the rules either. Dinner doesn’t have to always be between 6-7pm. Sometimes an earlier dinner, especially on busy nights, can eliminate the less healthier afterschool snacks. It’ll also give you extra time in the evenings to prepare meals for the rest of the week.
2. Let Someone Else do the Hard Work for You
Want to reduce those takeaway orders? Let someone else do the work instead! Getting fresh meals delivered allows you to purchase pre-prepped dinners, as well as the recipes to go with them. Convenient like takeaway or instant meals, but a healthier option. All the fresh vegetables, protein, sauces, herbs and everything else that goes with it is provided and delivered to your door. You put it together using the easy-to-follow recipes provided.
Home cooked meals are proven to be healthier. Cooking together encourages an opportunity to reconnect with family too. It’s trying new things, like learning a new recipe, that can help keep couples and families engaged in their relationships. But not everyone has the time. Through such services, you get the best of both worlds – the benefits of home cooked meals, with a lot less hassle.
3. Utilise Meal Plans to Beat Boredom
Boredom is a big culprit for takeaway food. Without fresh inspiration in the kitchen, how is anyone motived to cook something tasty and nourishing? Create a couple of dinner meal plans and rotate them throughout the week to avoid falling into a dinner rut. Meal plans can be planned around your schedule, to cater for those busy. All it takes is 15 minutes over the weekend to map out the weekly dinners.
4. Stock up on Staples
Stocking up on staples, such as pasta, rice, potatoes and carrots is an inexpensive way to encourage simple home cooked meals. Before you do the weekly grocery shopping, think about how certain staples can be re-used in different dinners. This helps to reduce food wastage too. Well-stocked pantries mean there are always dinner options, even if the fridge is empty. Stock up on tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, beans, lentils, chickpeas and pasta sauces, as well as a variety of nuts and seeds to add to dishes.
5. Invest in a Slow Cooker for Fast Meals
Slow cookers are a lifesaver when it comes to busy lifestyles and dinner duties. There are multiple slow cooker meals that require almost no preparation. Simply throw all ingredients into the one pot, with little to no chopping or sautéing. If you want more variety, do additional preparation the night before. Start the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook for you! Here are some slow cooker recipes to offer inspiration.
6. Cultivate New Skills
Another way to beat dinner boredom is to cultivate new skills. Learning new recipes is easy to do. But if you’re after more freedom in the kitchen, utilise templates instead, which are less rigid than recipes. Use simple dinner formulas you know by heart, mixing it up with different variables and ingredients to create something different and exciting. One dinner template can turn into multiple meal ideas.
Consider cooking classes too. Even if you’re a good cook, they can be great for sourcing inspiration and getting motivated again. Studies show that by boosting your cooking skills at home, you can up your veggie intake by more than half a serve too.
Fast food should be an occasional treat – not an everyday food. The average Aussie family spends nearly 15% of their food budget on fast food and takeaway. With a few simple changes and pre-planning though, you can benefit from nutritional money-saving home cooked meals.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson who recommends Prep’d – a weekly meal delivery service that plans, sources, preps and delivers food to you. You cook and serve. Catch Jayde on Google+ or LinkedIn to discuss this piece.