Home cooked meals are the best in terms of taste and money-savings, but they can also be a lot of work. How can you make it easier to cook at home?
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that home cooked meals taste better and are easier on the budget than most take-out or pricey convenience foods.
It seems like a no-brainer to cook at home, right?
Maybe. Sorta. Yes?
The thing is that cooking seven days a week can become tiresome.
Even if you have nothing to do all day, to head to the kitchen three times a day to prep food, serve the meal, and clean it all up? Well, it feels like a game of Chopped combined with Groundhog Day.
There has to be a way to make our meals and enjoy it, too!
Home Cooked Meals & How to Make Them Easily
Whether you are just joining the Cook-at-Home Club or simply need a refresher, this post is for you. These are my go-to strategies for getting home cooked meals on the table without a lot of hassle. I hope they work for you, too.
Got some tricks up your sleeve? Share the deets with us in the comments section.
Choose simple meals.
If you’re not in the habit of cooking on a regular basis, don’t start dreaming big dreams when it comes to menu planning. Simple is best. Simple recipes that take few ingredients and that are quick to make are your very best friend.
You don’t need to get all tricked out when it comes to meal prep. Think about the things that you get for take out. A taco? Burrito? Cheeseburger.
Prep ingredients ahead of time.
Meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to require a lot of cute containers; it doesn’t have to mean cooking all day.
If you’ve got a few minutes in the morning or even at night before bed, do some meal prep.
Use the slow cooker.
Speaking of slow cookers, did you know this small kitchen appliance could be your very best friend?!
Fill it in the morning and you will come home to dinner already cooked. There are so many easy slow cooker recipes, you could use it every week without getting bored. Here are few good home cooked meals you can make in your slow cooker:
- Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Sherried Mushroom Gravy
- Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Olives
Fill the freezer.
While there’s nothing wrong with stashing a few bags of potstickers or frozen pizzas in the freezer for busy nights, you can just as easily make your own.
Whether you follow a freezer cooking plan or simply load up on your favorite meats, fish, and breads, using the freezer as your longterm food storage can really help you out on busy nights.
Consider making a double batch the next time you make:
- marinara sauce
- pulled pork
- shredded chicken
- taco meat
- split pea soup
- cooked beans
- quick bread
Get help to make home cooked meals happen.
There is no reason you should do all the work. It’s important for other members of the household (partner, children, roommates) to help out. You aren’t a short order cook, are you?
Get help in the kitchen from the other members in the household. You can work together, talk, and enjoy the fruits of your labor more easily and quickly.
Young kids can help wash produce and arrange veggie and fruit trays. As they grow, teach them basic knife skills and you’ll work yourself out of a job.
If you don’t already have a kitchen chore rotation at your house, consider if now might be a good time to implement one. Able humans, from about the age of five are eligible.
When we were first married, I cooked and my husband washed dishes. As kids were born and grew capable, they started with easy jobs like setting and clearing the table and unloading the plastics from the dishwasher. Nowadays, we have a rotation taped to the fridge and clean-up duty is divided among three of the kids, with parents pitching in as needed.
Make your meal plan succeed.
It’s easy to buy, download, or make a meal plan, but putting it in action is where people fall short. There are a few things that you can do to make your home cooked meals happen.
- Check your meal plan daily. Put reminders on the fridge or program them into your phone so that you don’t forget to thaw or start cooking a necessary ingredient.
- Pull all the nonperishable ingredients out onto the counter in the morning so they are ever before you and a reminder to get cooking in a timely manner.
- Start early on meal prep. It almost always takes longer than you think it will. And if you end up eating dinner early? So much the better! Enjoy a family night with your peeps!
Enjoying home cooked meals with your family doesn’t have to be a feat worthy of an Olympic medal. They are important for relationships, diet, and budget.
How do YOU make good home cooked meals happen?
This post was originally published on August 22, 2015. It has been updated for content and clarity.