The Guide to Simplifying Your Life
1. COOK IN ADVANCE TO SAVE ENERGY AND TIME
My trio of posts on how to do this
- Strategies to help you cook
- 10 Tips and Tricks to help you save time
- Recipes & Blogs to get you started
I like to make a plan in advance, and get prepared on Sunday, cook for the whole week (lunches and dinners) and just eat the fruits of my labour when I get home.
I also tend to make the same vegetables, proteins and starches for every dish, but I just add different spices or sauces and prepare them differently.
This way, I prep the same things all at once, but I end up with very different meals in the end.
You can also do something like cook chicken breasts and freeze sauces or vegetables ahead of time, so it’s easy to whip up a stirfry on a moment’s notice, but I don’t really like eating frozen food, because I find a lot of it tends to lose its fresh, delicious flavour when it’s frozen.
2. SHOP WITH A PLAN
I figure out what I want to make for the week, and I create a list of ingredients for all the recipes.
Then I sit down, figure out how much I need for both (e.g. half a lemon for one recipe) and then either change my other recipes to incorporate the second half of the lemon so I don’t waste it, or scrap the lemon altogether in favour of another type of citrus.
I don’t leave half-used items for one recipe languishing in the fridge or freezer.
I use EVERYTHING so that there’s zero waste.
3. MAKE EXTRA & EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS
Nothing is easier and tastier than popping in a plate of fried rice that you made on Sunday, when you are too tired (mentally) from work on Tuesday. In fact, I think it tastes better.
If I decide to make a special dinner on a whim, I eat the leftovers for breakfast (yes, really!) or for lunch the next day at work.
4. RE-ASSESS WHAT YOU NEED TO EAT WITH
This can be tough to do, because I tend to use bowls and plates, leave them soaking in the sink, and then do a complete wash all at once, rather than one by one.
Both strategies work, but if you wash plates, bowls and cups after each use, you need to own less of them. I find that 2 bowls, 2 plates, 2 cups and 2 sets of cutlery tend to be enough for 2 people.
Add on that (of course), baking bowls, Tupperware dishes, oven dishes and so on, and you actually have a lot more in way of options than you think.
I have been known to eat out of a Tupperware (glass) dish, because I was too lazy to wash the bowl I used earlier that day. But you know what, it worked just as well, and I was able to slap a lid on it when I couldn’t finish my meal.
Another argument for not having too many dishes, plates and bowls to eat from, is that you are forced to do dishes regularly, and it doesn’t become a mountain of glass and ceramic in your sink, taunting you.
5. RE-ASSESS YOUR COOKING NEEDS
This has been an on-going process for us.
We’ve realized that we can’t live without our microwave, rice cooker, LeCreuset glazed cast iron pot, as we use them quite often.
Other things we’ve noticed we don’t use as often are the kettle, yoghurt maker, bread maker and crepe pan.
That is never to say that we will never use a yoghurt maker again, but it’d have to be if we were making yoghurt at least once every 2 weeks.
6. EATING HEALTHIER
There’s no need to cut out ALL the salt, sugar and fried foods from your diet but trying to eat more fruits, vegetables and limiting your salt intake has never hurt anyone. I’d also suggest limiting your intake of alcohol and red meats as well.
It’s fine to have them, but not all the time.
This will help you prevent health problems in the future.
Going vegetarian or vegan 2-3 times a week has also made food preparation easier (no need to worry about contamination, they’re all veggies!!)
You can also check out my post here on how to cook at home for cheaper than eating out (Fabulously Broke in the City).