One of the popular themes in my recent SCD polls was that preparing food for the diet is time consuming. There is no argument from me there. However, over the years I have developed some time saving strategies. I work full time and I have a fairly long commute in rush hour after work. Some days if I’ve spent over an hour in bumper to bumper traffic I don’t always feel like spending another hour cooking.
Here is what I do:
On Sunday I write out what I am going to make for dinner every night of the week. I make a grocery list and make sure I buy everything I need for the week.
It’s always good to have a go to meal for when plans don’t work out. For me this is an egg scramble. I always make sure I have eggs, bacon (I recently found some uncured natural bacon that has no sugar, it uses honey!), frozen peppers and onions, and cheese. It only takes minutes to prepare so it is perfect for those nights when I don’t really feel like cooking.
It’s good to scout around for a restaurant or grocery store where you know you can get safe pre-prepared food. I used to live near a grocery store that had roasted chicken with no illegal ingredients. I could also pick up a salad or some roasted vegetables and dinner was done. I don’t live by that store anymore and I do miss it. Now I settle for the grocery, which has a decent salad bar.
On Sundays I do my more intensive cooking. I make a meal that takes a little longer than usual. Usually there are enough left overs to have one more meal during the week. If I’m going to do any baking I also do that on Sunday. Point being – pick a cooking day.
If you pick a cooking day you can keep it simple the rest of the week. It’s a little boring but a baked chicken breast and some sauteed, boiled, or roasted vegetables make a perfectly good dinner that doesn’t take much work. I usually make some rice or potatoes for my husband to go along with his meal. We rarely prepare two separate meals.
Another time saver is to buy a second yogurt container. I didn’t have a second one for a long time, but when I finally bought one I realized it was a time saver to be able to make yogurt whenever I had time regardless of whether the other container was empty and washed. Yes, you can empty the yogurt into another type of container, but for some reason I feel like it makes the yogurt more watery.
Spaghetti Squash. When I first started making spaghetti squash I never wanted to do it because it took so long to prepare. I used to cut the raw squash in half and either microwave it or bake it. I hated cutting the raw squash because it was so hard. Then I discovered that you don’t have to cut the squash before microwaving. I just poke a bunch of holes in it with a sharp knife, put it on a plate, and microwave it for about ten minutes (time will depend on the size of the squash). Another way I cook it is put the whole squash in a crock pot with a cup of water and let it cook on low all day. It will also cook in four to five hours on the high setting. I don’t really have to think about it until it’s done.
Some things will always take a while – like soaking and cooking beans. For me planning my meals for the entire week was the biggest time saver I found.