Holiday Hacks: 5 Time-Saving Kitchen Tips, so You Stay Healthy

As we are getting a back to a new normal, the holidays look a lot different for most of us this year. Holiday parties, school concerts, family gatherings, shopping, and vacations may not be happening quite the same way – yet somehow, we will all still be VERY busy. Give yourself the gift of taking some shortcuts and holiday hacks to take some of the pressure off so you can relax, be merry, and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

1. Go Semi-Homemade
Sometimes taking shortcuts can turn a potential take-out night into a total kitchen win. For example:
• Grab a rotisserie chicken and incorporate it into soups or chilis so you can reap the benefits of high-quality protein without spending extra time cooking it. Shred the chicken and stuff lettuce leaves with a squeeze of lime for lunch.
• Start with your favorite frozen pizza dough, then add your favorite jarred sauce and vegetable toppings plus a sprinkle of flavorful cheese to make it a meal, If your goal is to lose weight, opt for a cauliflower pizza crust.
• Buy pre-chopped produce, such as onions, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, and bell peppers, that are more time-intensive to prepare. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast for a side dish or add it to salads during the week.

2. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Batch cooking is an efficient way to keep up with your healthy eating goals no matter what time of year. It essentially means cooking more than what you need in the moment so you can take advantage of having all of your cooking tools and gadgets out; it’s way more efficient! Not to be confused with leftovers, batch cooking usually refers to one component so you can repurpose it later. For instance:
● Need rice or quinoa for your Monday night meal? Make a large batch so you can easily incorporate it in salads and grain bowls all week long.
● Making hard-boiled eggs? It takes the same amount of time to make six as it does to make two. Enjoy as a snack, crumble into salads, or mash with some avocado.
● Baking sweet potatoes? Make a few more than you need, and you’ll have the base for an easy customizable lunch ready to go. You can also purée or mash the flesh for baked goods and use in a pumpkin recipe.

3. Sheet Pan and One Pot Meals
Raise your hand if your least favorite part of cooking is the clean-up. I feel you! Make it easier on yourself by searching for one-dish meals to seriously cut down on time spent doing the dishes. Here are a few to get you started:
● Create baking pockets by lining foil with parchment then crimping for perfectly roasted fish that stays juicy, never dry.
● Roasting your favorite protein with seasonal produce is a tasty no-fuss way to incorporate a few servings of vegetables into a meal.
● Still haven’t learned how to use your Instant Pot? Now would be a good time! You can get frozen proteins to the table fast with this safe and simple pressure cooker. A simple 12-minute recipe: frozen protein [like chicken thighs] + favorite jarred tomato sauce + a jar of olives = yummy cacciatore that will have everyone running to the table for dinner. If you use plant-based protein, like dried chickpeas, just soak the dried beans overnight and be sure they are covered with fluid [jarred sauce + some broth] before cooking in Instant Pot.

4. Freeze Meat and Fish in a Marinade
Anytime you marinate any type of meat or fish, reserve a single or double portion with in a resealable plastic bag or plastic container and freeze it. This is very helpful for those of us who live alone or live only with one other person
● Anytime you can double a recipe you’re making, go ahead and do it. Note that most recipes are set for 2-4 servings. So, why not marinate in bulk. Note: you can either use a plastic bag or plastic container.
● You can freeze half and then enjoy the same delicious meal another time while saving time at the same time and without the worry of the whole cooking process.
● The morning before you plan to cook it, simply thaw the bag of your marinated mean on your countertop or thaw it in the fridge overnight. 5.

5. Clean as You Go
This is a habit that makes after-meal clean up a lot quicker and easier. Cleaning in the kitchen as you go, it’s a practice that everyone that steps into the kitchen to prepare a meal can benefit from adopting. Things you can do include:
● Wipe down the counter, cutting board, and stove while things cook, wash cooking tools or load the dishwasher between recipe steps.
● Discard any food scarps and trash as needed rather than letting them pile up.
● With practice, it’ll get easier and cleaning behind yourself and eventually will become automatic habit.

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