It’s that time of year and we’re setting New Year’s resolutions! I always do it because I think there’s something positive about stating what you want for the New Year and committing to do it. There are a couple of resolutions that are always popular – lose weight and healthier eating. Many people set these goals to shed pounds in an effort to be more svelte in the new year. The problem is: it’s hard to create new habits! In addition, when it’s cold outside it’s more tempting to eat unhealthy foods (it’s also easier to be more dormant when the weather is not so great). What we eat contributes towards our weight management, our energy levels, our physical fitness, and more. Today, I’ll share 4 tips for cooking more at home. With these tips, you’ll be more aware of what you’re eating because you’re fixing it yourself, you can shed pounds because you can control what you’re eating, you can save money by eating out less (and thus be able to afford a new workout regimen), and you can stick to your weight loss/healthier eating goal throughout the year. Let’s dive in!
- Get a slow cooker and use it
Ok, stay with me. I know slow cookers (a.k.a. crock pots) aren’t glamorous or sexy, but they work. If you can plan ahead, your meal can be cooking for you while you’re away from home. When you get home, dinner is ready and the house smells fabulous. There are so many hearty stews, soups, and chilis that can be prepared with a slow cooker. It’s perfect for this time of year. As the weather gets warmer, you can cook meats, fish, and casseroles in a slow cooker. My favorite is this 7 Quart Slow Cooker, but I own this 6 Quart Crock Pot, which is affordable. Tip: all slow cookers cook differently. Some cook fast, while some cook slow. Also, some have hot spots (one side of the pot is hotter than the other). If you have a new slow cooker, watch it during the last hour of the cook session to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
- Use your freezer
Now that you have a slow cooker, you may be thinking “what am I going to do with all of this food? I’m going to be eating chili for days!” Don’t be afraid of making too much food. Many meals are freezable, which will save you money! You can always have a meal available in your freezer as long as you make time to defrost it. If you make a large meal with your slow cooker, divide it into individual servings, label them, and place some of the servings in the freezer. Then, keep a log of what you put in your freezer. The log should list the meal and the date that you froze it. If you do this, you’ll always know what’s in your freezer and it won’t go to waste.
But how do you know what to cook? Easy…
- Use a meal planning service
There are many meal planning services out there. You do have to pay for most of them, but it will save you time in the long run. You can find a service which caters to your dietary preferences. I currently use Cook Smarts, which offers 4 types of meals: original, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo. The nutrition facts are listed for each meal, which I love because I can make substitutions if the sodium, fat, or calorie counts are too high. Using a meal planning service helps me: stay organized with my meal planning each week, get a quick (and good) meal on the table when I’m stretched for time, and build a grocery list in a fraction of the time than it normally would.
Second to planning the meals, the grocery list is huge because you can use the grocery list to….
- Order your groceries
Our kids don’t have a lot of patience for grocery shopping. Plus, my husband and I grew tired of managing tantrums and fits every Sunday afternoon in the middle of aisle 5. So, as soon as this was offered at our local grocery store, we took advantage of it! Ordering our groceries has saved us time and it has allowed us to stay on track. We get what we need from our list, and we can avoid the temptation of buying what we don’t need → junk food. So many grocery stores are offering this service now for a small fee. At first, the fee was off-putting, but I utilize the online coupons offered by my grocery store and those savings almost always surpass the $5 service fee. Another bonus: after you use the service the first time, it keeps a list of your previous purchases. You can use that every time you start a new list which is a huge time saver.
There you have it…4 easy tips to help you cook more at home. Go ahead and set your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and eat healthier. This year will be different! You can be confident that you can (and will) accomplish your goals in the New Year because you’ll be equipped to do so.
Have a very Merry Christmas, and stay tuned for my next tip!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!