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Did you make resolutions this year? I didn’t…not technically. But I did take the time to reflect on some changes that I think would benefit our family! One of those is to stop grabbing so much “to-go food” & cook at home more. Often I’m scrambled by the end of the day after taking care of Ellie, working, running errands, etc. & then I’m ravenous. So I’ve come up with some tips, tricks, & advice that has really been helpful to make things run more smoothly! So here are my 10 ways to cook at home more this year- starting now!
1. Utilize your Refrigerator & Freezer to Prep Efficiently!
There are tons of ways to save time- but I’ll shout from the rooftops the usefulness of prepping more than you need. Cutting onions? You already have the knife & board out, maybe chop some more for your dinner tomorrow night too! It’s so much quicker to plan ahead even on the small things. Another tip- you can actually purchase chopped, diced, riced etc ingredients either fresh or frozen. For us, we rarely use much onion so we tend to pick up shallots or use only a bit of frozen onion & let it thaw immediately as it cooks up! If you’re more visual, consider picking up a set of glass food prep containers like these to quickly eyeball what you have ready to go! It also gets us to use more healthy ingredients!
2. Optimize “Dump” or One-Pot Meals!
Probably the most unattractive description for an easy meal- but seriously they’re excellent! A dump meal refers to dumping all the ingredients together which means less cleanup, cook times, & juggling. Sometimes also seen as one-pot-meals but those can have different ingredients & cooking parameters but use the same pot or pan! See more about some of my favorites you can pick up in the next tip!
3. Invest in a Slowcooker, Crockpot, Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker, or Air Fryer!
Some gadgets create unnecessary clutter but these three are MUSTS in our kitchen to save time, money, & definitely to make things easier. The Instant-Pot & Slowcooker also can function for dump meals, cooking while you get things done, & even cooking overnight! Plus, depending on the size, I frequently prep ingredients (think stewed apples, beef broth, etc) & make HUGE batches then freeze as smaller meals. The air fryer saves a ton of time because I don’t have to watch the oven, can make smaller batches, & it totally cures that junk food want while preparing healthier versions in a snap!
Some of my personal favorites- we have this trio slowcooker for buffets & to cook a bunch different ways at once, my Instant Pot is still going strong, & we actually have 2 types of air fryers! This is the smaller, more compact NuWave Brio & the other is larger which means we fit a whole meal in there & is called the NuWave Pro! I haven’t tried the Ninja Foodi yet but I’d REALLY like to since it combines some of these appliances together!
4 Learn What Your Easy Go-To Meals Are!
This is something basic in theory but it helps immensely! Always have frozen shrimp & broccoli? Maybe get a recipe down that you know is ready in about 15 minutes. Shrimp thaw super quick- so they’re a go-to for us! Heck, even chicken strips in the freezer are a quick meal too & pop some broccoli in the air fryer then top with parmesan. Other options include DIY pizzas, tacos, & pesto. Find a few things that work for you & your family so you have an answer whenever you start thinking “there’s nothing to eat in this house!” when really you’re drained & feeling exhausted.
5 Know Your Cook Temperatures!
Think this one sounds obvious? Stay with me! Just having a basic knowledge of what temperature you’re cooking/baking/air frying/etc means you can optimize space. Know that your pork & broccoli both cook on medium pressure for a similar amount of time? Invest in a pan that allows you to separate & cook together or that splits into layers! This Accessories Set for Instant Pot is a great one! We do this frequently in the oven as well for our mains & sides like zucchini & chicken! For instance- the chicken that arrives from Perdue Farms (more below!) can be purchased in a ton of varieties & some will cook up faster than others!
6 Utilize Multiple Appliances!
I remember telling my friend that I had multiple appliances going at once & she said “oh no, that’s just too much!” I was surprised! One of the easiest ways to multi-task is to use what you know works. I frequently have my rice cooking in the insta-pot while I am focused on the wok. I cook up our pork loin in the crockpot while the oven works on potatoes. Set separate timers if that’s something you’re worried about! You can name them as alarms on your phone or buy small, cheap magnets & put them near the appliance you’re using!
7 Create Pinterest Inspo Boards with Different Categories & Multi-Pin!
Think Pinterest is a thing of the past? If you want to cook at home more- please learn to utilize it! I save lots of ideas on instagram but there’s a lot more work involved if people haven’t linked the recipes, they’re in another language, they’re regramming, etc. Pinterest allows you to really streamline & plan meal ideas effectively & I really recommend pinning to MULTIPLE boards! See a chicken recipe that’s great to use up leftovers & uses the insta-pot? Instead of just pinning to a “chicken” board, pin to Chicken, Insta-Pot, & Leftovers. This way, if you know you’re short on time you can bring up your Insta-Pot board instead of just focusing on the ingredients! I promise it helps! Feel free to check out mine for ideas (here is my Pinterest account) & you’ll notice I have things broken down by all kinds of categories including low carb/keto, chocolate, beverages, & tons of beauty, fashion, & lifestyle options too!
8 Invest in a Freezer to Save Time, Money, & Get Organized!
We agonized over getting a deep freezer. Back & forth we went- it’s so bulky, takes up so much room, unappealing, & on & on. Now we can’t imagine life without it. Buying in bulk saves SO much money & prepping in bulk saves SO much time! Plus, whenever there is something seasonal we love it gives us a ton more space! We make huge batches of fresh tomatillo enchilada sauce then freeze flat & store for each use. I think sometimes people see freezers as a place to store unhealthy food- but ours is usually full of veggies, fruits, prepped meals, & meat/fish!
9 Stop Buying What You Don’t Use!
If you’re looking to save time especially- stop buying things you won’t use. Keep your pantry & kitchen more streamlined so there isn’t food clutter! Keep throwing out the oranges? Why are you still buying a huge bag? Saving $5 isn’t actually a savings if you throw it away! On the other end of the spectrum- start using what you DO buy to save money! Instead of tossing the oranges, re-purpose into cleanser, orange marmalade, or an Asian-inspired sauce that you can eat up next week!
10 Enlist Help to Bring Quality Foods to Your Door!
Perdue Farms is so much more than just Perdue chicken! The company boasts a full line of premium protein products a& brands, including Niman Ranch, Coleman Natural, Perdue Chicken, Perdue Harvestland, Panorama Meats, Spot Farms, Full Moon & more! For 100 years, the company has worked with small family farmers to raise animals with care which is a huge factor for us since we do eat meat in our household. We frequently shop local for produce & I genuinely enjoy picking out pretty fruits & veggies! But meat…not as exciting for me! Personally, this is extremely convenient, isn’t as overwhelming, & the options range from raw, basic product to more complex ready to serve main dishes like the Niman Ranch Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops With Rosemary. Please be sure to view my IGTV here on @homeinhighheels to check out some other options too!
If you’re looking to amp up your sustainability this year (we are!) then you want to really tune in here! Because Perdue Farms is dedicated to lessening their carbon footprint, each bundle shipment also includes a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation which works to replant areas of damaged forests. The shipping boxes are actually designed to be more sustainable as well with 100% recyclable cardboard & Green Cell Foam which is eco-friendly & easily biodegradable. You also receive a reusable & recyclable grocery bag with every purchase along with a pollinator seed packet to plant for your local bees & butterflies! Often convenience or luxury is associated with excess so this was a huge plus when researching options!
Check out more from Perdue Farms here & a big thanks to the brand for letting me try their new service!