One of the main concerns people have when trying to eat a nutrient-rich diet of whole foods is time! It takes time to plan a meal, shop for ingredients, prep the meal, and cook it. Even people who know food cooked at home is healthier option can feel overwhelmed by the time it takes to prepare a meal.
It is important to recognize this reality and look for ways to make cooking from scratch a little easier. Once we become more confident in our ability to create a tasty meal quickly, we will be less tempted to grab a meal of processed food.
Since fruits and vegetables are important ingredients in most real food recipes, learning to cut them quickly will be important.
Chopping Quickly by Hand
Learning to chop and dice vegetables is a game changer. If you are a slow chopper, making meals can seem to take forever. Cutting will go so much faster for you with the proper knife, a little practice, and the following cutting trick.
Let’s start by considering the best type of knife for the job. Many people feel more comfortable with smaller knives. But chopping will be quite a bit more efficient with a big sharp knife. It can be intimidating to use a large knife, but don’t let that hold you back from trying. Just start slowly as you get used to it, and before long you will be chopping like a pro.
Now that you have a good knife for the job, here is a trick that is especially helpful for those circular vegetables - onion, zucchini, carrot, eggplant - that keep rolling around as you try to cut them.
- Cut the vegetable in half long ways
- Place the flat sides down, so the food doesn't roll away from you.
- Make quick slices lengthwise.
- Slice in the other direction, across all the strips.
- Use them in your recipe or eat them straight.
It takes time to master any skill. But the more you chop, the faster you’ll get!
Using a Food Processor
Many people are intimidated to use a food processor, but it is such a helpful tool. It slices and shreds things so efficiently and evenly.
Once you set it up, you can slice (or shred) a bunch of vegetables really quickly. It’s helpful to think about what vegetables you will need for the next several days. Even if you aren’t ready to cook all your meals at once, you can prepare the vegetables. This keeps you from having to set up your food processor and clean it multiple times throughout the week.
When you are done preparing your vegetables, I would suggest rinsing the blades off right away even if you aren’t ready to fully clean it. This will prevent food from getting dried on the blade and keep it from needing to be scrubbed later. Scrubbing dried food off sharp blades can be dangerous and is a huge hassle. If you don't have time even for a quick rinse, you may want to soak the blades until you are ready to clean them.
Don't let the time it takes to prepare "real food" stop you from eating healthy! The health benefits of eating real food far outweigh the time saved by the convenience of processed foods.
If you need a reminder of why homemade meals are better than ones made by corporations, check out this short video by author and journalist, Michael Pollan. And if you know homemade is best, but still feel overwhelmed, just try to make one small change to incorporate real foods into your diet today.