Cooking from scratch and how to save time and money
You are what you eat…..

Everyone has probably heard that adage. One of the main reasons I started cooking from scratch was because I didn’t feel well from eating the “whatever-in-a-box" meals I had been making.

Nutrients are the energy building blocks we need from our food. If the ingredients in your dinner come from a box with a list of ingredients on the back, it may fill you up but you are probably not getting the nutrients your body needs to live a healthy and vibrant life. When you make your food from scratch you can make sure you have the vital nutrients your body needs, and it tastes better too! 
Now, I know you are thinking this is going to take more time, and yes, cooking from scratch is a bit more time consuming. But here are 4 tips and tricks I use to cut down on the amount of time I have to spend cooking. I truly enjoy cooking but, there are times when I just need to get it done so I can spend my time on more pressing matters.

1. Batch cooking

Batch cooking is basically cooking large batches of  1 or 2 dishes to store for several meals. I use this one frequently, because I don’t mind eating leftovers and it’s easy to prepare an entire week’s worth of food in a short cooking session. This affords me the freedom to not have to cook everyday, because I portion out all my meals into single servings in Pyrex in the fridge. Then I can take a meal to work or reheat at home, depending on my schedule.

So in batch cooking, I usually look for a recipe that has 4-6 servings, then I will double it. I usually make 12 servings for the week, so I pick 1-2 meals and plan how many servings of each I need. If you don’t like eating the same thing everyday, you can still do the batch cooking, but it will blend into the next category of freezer meals as well. The reason for 12 servings for the week is because I do intermittent fasting, but we will talk about that in a later post.

Once I’ve picked the recipes, I get any groceries I need and get ready to cook. Now, I stock my freezers with a lot of staples. I always have homemade chicken, turkey, and beef broth in my freezer. Homemade is way better for you and tastes much better too. I will post about how to make it in you Crockpot with very little hands on time spent. I also buy meat in bulk whenever possible and freeze it.

Once I’ve made the recipe for the week I get out Pyrex containers and divide the meals into portions for the whole week. Then I stack these in the fridge. I can grab and take to work or reheat at home based on my work schedule and cleanup is tidier to as I can wash all the cooking pots and utensils after cooking and the rest of the week only have a few pyrex to wash.

2. Freezer meals

Freezer meals have 2 categories. you can freeze leftovers like the large batch we made above, or you can prep meals in bags uncooked and freeze them to cook later.

I will freeze any remaining portions I have left. So if I made more than I needed for the week, or I ate out with friends/family and didn’t eat one of the servings above; I will freeze that and then have something to thaw out another time when I need a quick meal. If you don’t like eating the same thing everyday, you could freeze the extra portions until you have enough variety to eat from the freezer for a week or two. This especially, works well with soups. (there are so many additives in canned soup and I promise you, yours made from scratch will taste much better).

For freezer prep meals, you take all the ingredients for a recipe and put them in a freezer safe container and freeze it raw, then thaw it out when you are ready to cook it. This works well when you can prep many recipes at 1 time. Crockpot or pressure cooker meals are great for this because you can dump the contents in the cooker turn it on and then get other things done.

3. Crockpot recipes

Crock pots, or slow cookers are very handy for busy lives. Being able to put all the ingredients into the Crockpot in the morning and have dinner ready at night without having to spend time tending it, is a huge time saver. I have many Crockpot recipes I use over and over because they are convenient and require little hands on cooking time. If you are making it fresh that morning you may have some prep time, but if you have a freezer meal, you can dump it mostly frozen in the crock pot, put the lid on, turn it on and walk away.

4. Pressure cooker

A pressure cooker is similar to the Crockpot, but fast. You will cook when you want the meal done but it goes much faster than other cooking methods because the pressure created in the pot gets everything hotter than it would in a normal pot, so it cooks faster.
For example, if you have a frozen whole chicken in your freezer and you want to cook it for dinner, you would have to remember to thaw it out earlier in the day and then roast it in the oven for 60-90 minutes. 
But with a pressure cooker you can place that chicken in the pressure cooker frozen and have it ready in under an hour. Plus, most of that time, while the cooker if cooking, you can be doing other things. Soups and veggies cook in just a few minutes.

Now, back to our nutrients. 
When you are cooking from scratch it’s best to use the best quality ingredients the you have access to. Even with organic farming, food has fewer nutrients because the soil is much more depleted than even just a few decades ago. Organic fruits and veggies and pasture raised meats are going to give you the best nutrient profile without all the additives like preservatives and chemicals. You will actually eat less when you feed your body properly. Healthy fats and nutrients will make you feel satiated much more than food additives that are engineered to make you want to eat more.

Quality matters so much in what we put in and on our bodies. Obviously, these are more expensive, because it costs more to take care of a crop or animal without using chemical sprays and drugs. If you are thinking the cost of healthy foods is out of reach, consider the cost of being unhealthy. Days of work missed, the high price of being sick and lethargic, no energy to play with your kids or do the things that would save you money. Think about the exorbitant price of medical care. Many of these things are avoidable when you feed your body real food and it gets the nutrients it needs. How much have you spent on fighting illness and ill health this last year that could have been avoided through good nutrition? Gmo’s are linked to many health issues. Additives in our food are banned in other countries. Pesticides and herbicides are covering our foods and wreaking havoc on our endocrine systems.

… being healthier costs less in the long run… and there are ways to cut food costs too.

Growing some or all of your own veggies can help with grocery costs. I will be adding posts about gardening coming up… Supplements can help with getting the nutrients you need as well, but again the source and quality are most important in knowing your body is getting what it needs. I will be posting more about supplements in another post…

A few other ways to cut costs on whole foods:

• Buy local: farmers markets or local farmers in your area
• Join a food co-op or CSA
• Buy produce in season when its not only cheaper but more nutritional.
• plan the meal after shopping or practice batch cooking/freezer meals to use up a perishable ingredient.
• Drink water: not chlorinated/ fluoridated tap water; spring water or filtered to remove these chemicals is best (more on the type of water in another post) soda/pop and energy drinks are expensive and not healthy.
• Buy staples in bulk
• Reduce or stop eating out: it’s always cheaper to make your own food
• Some conventionally grown foods are ok: learn about the dirty dozen and clean 15 here:
• Preserve food when you can’t use it right away. I freeze many things to use later.

I hope this has inspired you to try one or more of these ideas. 

If you try something new, drop a comment and tell me how it went. If you have a tip I didn’t mention, share it in the comments for us all.

If you enjoyed this blog post you might like my guide:  ‘5 tips for healthy changes in your life’


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