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Tips: You don’t always have to cook daily from scratch! 
Feb. 11, 2012 3:03 pm 
Updated: Feb. 17, 2012 5:02 pm
One thing that might be discouraging you from a new eating plan is COOKING; to cook more at home or to cook at all!

Well, lets make it simple! I like that show on the Food Network called Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. Basically some stuff is scratch and the rest is store bought/prepped. Nothing wrong with it as long as you know where it’s been. Now, I have many Paleo and Primal eating-lifestyle friends who would shake their heads at me or cringe, but think of this as a STEP towards more Whole and Organic and so on! Getting out of eating out or from the microwave is a BIG STEP!
It’s better to start eating better than what you are eating, and this step isn’t too bad especially if you’re losing weight and getting the numbers you need in your bloodwork. I cannot stress enough for you to consult your doctor and get your stats while doing any eating lifestyle to drastically change your body’s chemistry!

OK Lets get to the food!!!!
So pictured above is a salad I made. If you enlarge you will see the cheese is still ‘frozen’! I buy a huge bag of pre-shredded cheddar cheese (the real stuff). Yes, I have bought a block and shredded it myself, but with 4 small ones and no elec. dishwasher, I get to buy a modern convenience once in a while. ha! Here we go with tips!
Noye: These are my personal tips, use at your own risk, they work for me and may NOT work for you. (in this day, you have to have a disclaimer)
You’re going to use it a lot, so you might as well buy a lot to save money and you need to make it last! Buy cheese in bulk (at a membership-type store) and freeze it, whether it is slices (NOT individually wrapped, the real stuff), sticks,  or shredded. For slices before freezing, I bag up about 10 slices in a storage bag. When I need some in my fridge, I just take a bag from the freezer to the fridge. The rest stays frozen until then. I leave the shredded in it’s bag and in the freezer. Cut open a corner. Use a handful at a time when needed for eggs (scrambled or omelet), salads, recipes, etc… it thaws in seconds, no worries about pre-thawing.
I also buy in bulk and freeze… Butter, Cream Cheese, and on occasion Ricotta Cheese. Mmmm.
Tip 2: PRECOOK/ Pre-Prepare

Chicken, Eggs, and Lettuce are use frequently in my week. Why get out a pot every time I need them? Save time and Electricity (or propane gas) and cook your week’s worth at once and have it ready when you need it!

Pick one day of the week to cook in bulk, for me Sunday is best. After church and between football games, I toss in 6 chicken breasts in the 6Qt Covered Stockpot and boil till done. Then dice up and put in a storage bag. When I am making a salad, I just grab a handful and sprinkle on like I did in the photo above. Same goes for Chicken Salad in a bowl (chicken with mayo, etc). It’s my favorite for Chicken Curry, stir fry, artichoke chicken, Alfredo chicken, and more. It’s ready so dinner can be made fast after a log day of working!
Two things to say about the chicken:
  1. OK, the chicken for me is a HUGE bag from one of those membership-type stores of boneless/skinless chicken breasts. You can buy fresh or whatever is best for you.
  2. You can keep the “water” you boiled the chicken in for broth to use later in recipes or make soup. Sometimes, I put in Garlic Pepper while the chicken is boiling, the flavor is up to you. I use Garlic Pepper a lot.
When you boil your chicken, just use another burner to boil a pot full of eggs. I believe 15 sit in the bottom of my 6Qt Covered Stockpot or you can use a 3Qt pot and boil less eggs. The best time is 10 min from the start of the water boil.
I put these in a storage bag in the fridge and peel when I am ready! Yes, they last all week. I have even seen the idea to boil with food coloring, so you know they are the hard boiled eggs! I keep in a storage bag in case one is cracked and I want to keep the fridge less smelly.
These are great for salads, snack, egg salad (with mayo, etc), or the party Favorite… Deviled Eggs!

Do you see a pattern here? Storage Bags! We are going to clean a head of iceberg or any of your mixed greens. YES even the “pre-washed, pre-cut, bagged” kind. Re-clean the lettuce you buy at the store or any market, even if it says triple wash! Have you read the headlines about people getting sick from prepackaged bags of lettuce or even dying from Spinach? Your health is worth a quick soak in disinfectant and clean water rinse. I do suggest you get a salad spinner to help with this whole process, especially the rinse/dry (spin)! So while your chicken and eggs boil, you can do this! Chop lettuce into your desired size and place in a gallon storage bag.
Oh and I do buy storage bags (Gallon and sandwich sizes) at the membership-type store too! $AVE!!! Same with the veggie wash too.

You have a fridge/freezer ready for you week of endless possibilities! It doesn’t take too long and you’ve done the major part of your food prep for the week! YEAH!!!
your turn: What is your Short-cut-to-cooking tip(s)?
Feb. 11, 2012 4:31 pm
Yep, you got to wash all your fresh vegetables. More so with people who have a compromised immune system.
Feb. 11, 2012 10:44 pm
Yes I go through a lot of disinfectant or if desperate, we use bleach. Currently in a 3rd world country and not too sure where the veggies come from or how they were transported. Bought a melon one time and after opening, smelled of gasoline! crazy stuff! LOL Thank for reading my post! :-)
Feb. 13, 2012 11:41 am
I don't usually cook the chicken ahead of time, but I buy the big family size packages and freeze each one individually- I'm usually cooking for one so only need one at a time. For eggs, I scramble them and then bake them in a muffin pan and put those in the freezer. Same with pancakes. Makes breakfast a whole lot easier, and I'm more likely to eat it if all I have to do is pop it in the microwave.
Feb. 16, 2012 7:58 pm
Such good tips! My husband is in med school and when he comes home after a long day it's wonderful to have food I can throw together in a jiffy. And since he eats for three this has really helped me out. Thanks!
Feb. 17, 2012 5:02 pm
I am a fan of Semi-homemade on Food Network too. I always have a Sandwich Night & a Breakfast night during the week. I make the Sandwiches Special by grilling them Panni style and use a variety of Deli meats & cheeses. The Breakfast has flavored waffles & pancakes or French Toasts.
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About Me
After 12 years in the corporate world, my life as a full time wife and mother beats any quarterly bonus. As soon as I could drive, I was grocery shopping and cooking. My father had a friend who showed me all she knew! The knowledge gained still helps me in the kitchen today. Other influences include my grandmother. I videotaped one of her specialties, since she was the only one in the family that made it. Then of course my mother, her baked beans and mashed potatoes were out of this world! I will never forget one year she and I made thanksgiving. We left the wooden spoon in the blender while making cranberry sauce! I simply love to cook. The kitchen is my “science lab” for sure. You can always here me say, “I put a lot of other stuff in it” when I was supposed to follow a recipe. For me, the recipe is a “guide”. I find the more you cook and read recipes; you start to see the patterns to the “formula”.
My favorite things to cook
Baking is my first love, so baking chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. I remember memorizing the recipe on the back of a bag of chocolate chips in 7th grade. I made cookies for the boys, of course! Since then, I have since evolved the recipe to my taste. I rounded up all the measurements to make it easier to remember. Also, you can never put too much REAL Vanilla Extract in a recipe. I like semi-sweet chocolate the best and the mini-chips go further (two batches a bag!). Now I make them for my mother-in-law one of my biggest chocolate chip cookie fans.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I will have to think about this one.
My cooking triumphs
This will have to be a recipe I found on the back of a soup can label. I replaced most of the ingredients except the ground beef and kept out the celery. It called for pasta, I used rice. It seemed to be an Italian type dish and I made it more Latino/Mexican. It was spicy but not too bad for us light weights. Without the rice as a main dish, you can use the meat mixture as a dip or a topping on a taco-type salad. I was so excited to create a dish that could be used in so many ways. With a family, you need something that can be versatile. To achieve that in my kitchen, on my budget, is a feat!
My cooking tragedies
I was helping my mom make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and we turned on the blender... with the wooden spoon in it! LOL!
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