Today, we’re talking all about the KITCHEN for the #LJInspired challenge – from healthy hacks, smart food swaps, to living and eating healthier. And while I know that making the kitchen a healthy haven can feel like a constant struggle, it really shouldn’t have to.
So whether you always seem to find yourself standing with knife in hand at your breaking point – unable to chop another veggie or are filling up your garbage with leaking, rotting leftover produce or ignoring your kitchen all together and opting for take-out instead, here are my favorite time-saving, food optimizing, kitchen hacks that will help you have a healthier (and smarter!) kitchen:
1. Roast your veggies: My husband and I love to roast a bunch of veggies on the weekend so that we’ll have good, healthy ingredients all week long for salads, stir-frys and other dishes. We usually roast sweet potatoes, peppers, and whatever else we have on hand and then simply store them in the fridge for use throughout the week – you can heat them up, dress them up, and add them to almost any dish – cutting down on prep time and cook time on a busy weeknight!
2. Make grains that will last the whole week: Another weekend activity usually involves making quinoa and brown rice for the week. We prepare just enough to get us through the week (usually 2-3 cups dry) and then store it in glass containers and use it in salads, stir-fries and for fried “rice” (AKA kitchen sink rice!).
3. Prepare a big green salad at the start of each week: I love to prepare salads ahead of time for the week and store them in a big glass container in the fridge. I’ll often use a big bag of pre-washed, pre-cut kale and mixed greens and then add in some roasted veggies and beans (or whatever healthy ingredients you have on hand that can go with almost any cuisine or meal). I’ll use the salad mixture to make lunches throughout the week – sometimes throwing in some hard boiled eggs, coconut flakes, fruit and / or nuts and seeds to change it up day to day. I’ll also use the salad mix in our favorite dishes – mixing it in with a stir-fry (half grain / half greens), or to use as a base for a “bowl” type dinner (burrito bowls are a fave in our house!). Using a good salad base throughout the week will get you and your family eating more greens (and will hopefully lead to less wasted produce!).
4. Cold brew coffee (or iced tea!): I love to make a big pitcher of cold brew coffee at the start of each week – I’ll mix it into morning smoothies, add a little almond milk for a quick fix, or even add a little water and heat up on the way out the door. You can of course also do the same with your favorite tea. This can save you time and help stave on any morning grumpiness!
5. Keep an empty egg container on hand: We always keep an empty egg container in the fridge labeled HB for hard-boiled. We start the week with a bunch of hard-boiled and non-hard-boiled eggs that we can use in meals for an easy and healthy protein. We’ll use hard-boiled eggs on salads, to eat as snacks (with a little sriacha, I swear its better than chips!) and to include in rice dishes. We also use eggs to top our “bowls” – veggies, grain, and a big runny egg – make for a quick, easy and healthy meal!
6. Eat more avocados: We always buy several at the start of the week to add creaminess to our dishes and have a healthy snack option on hand. We’ll slice up avocados for salads, rice dishes, bowls and just about everything in between. Sometimes if we’re having a busy day or want to head out for a run right before or after work, we’ll simply slice an avocado in half, pour a little sriacha down the middle and eat it with a spoon – it makes for a perfect and satisfying healthy snack. Another favorite in our house is to mash up avocados with a little salsa and use for everything from a veggie dip, salad dressing or “bowl” topping!
7. Keep easy dessert options on hand: For easy, healthy desserts, we buy a pint of whole fat plain or vanilla yogurt nearly every other week. If we’re craving a little dessert, we can always dish up a little yogurt and add fun toppings like chocolate chips, almond butter, cinnamon, honey, fruit or even coconut flakes for crunch.
8. Prepare your smoothies ahead of time: I drink a smoothie almost every single morning so when people tell me they don’t have time for breakfast, I almost always reply, you don’t have 45 seconds? I keep all our favorite smoothie ingredients in one place in the cupboard (cacao powder, Vega, cacao nibs, chia seeds, hemp seeds, etc), and bananas close by on the countertop. No matter how much sleep I’ve had, it makes smoothie making nearly full proof. All I have to do is throw the almond milk and banana in a blender, grab some ice and throw in a few smoothie enhancers. Everything is laid out and ready – making total time about 45 seconds (including blending and pouring). I’ll often put my smoothie in a thermos so I can walk around the house, get ready, work, etc while drinking in and give it to my husband as he walks out the door. Never any excuse not to eat breakfast!
9. Freeze the ripe stuff! Don’t toss your greens each week! Use ice cube trays (baby food trays will also work) and then puree your greens (whatever the mixture may be) together in the blender or food processor, adding a little water for smooth consistency. Pour the mixture into the trays and freeze them. Once frozen, pop them out into gallon-sized freezer bags so you can easily grab them for smoothie making! You can also do this to save your ripening fruit. Just peel, slice and freeze in gallon-sized freezer bags and use for smoothies, desserts and even baking – saving you time and money you might be spending on frozen fruit or veggies!
10. Dirty rice (quinoa, insert your fave grain here): Don’t be afraid to use whatever you have left in your kitchen for the week to make dirty rice (AKA kitchen sink meals). You can use the grain you prepared at the beginning of the week, some salad mixture, a little soy sauce (or other marinade), and veggies and then stir-fry together in a pan (fried-rice style). You can add a runny egg to the top for protein, avocados or whatever else appeals to you! Dirty rice is not only quick, easy and healthy but saves you from throwing out your leftovers each week!
What are your fave kitchen hacks?
Stay sweaty friends!
Jen @ Pretty Little Grub saysJuly 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm
Great tips Jamie! I always puree up my spinach or kale for smoothies and freeze it. It makes my smoothies thicker too which I like.
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Jamie saysJuly 29, 2015 at 8:37 pm
So true on the thickness, glad you think my tips are OK, especially given your expertise lovely lady! XOXOXOOX
Felicity Kayne saysAugust 3, 2015 at 11:41 am
I like these tips but it does require quite a bit of forward thinking and preparation! I’m not always very good at that. Something I have to work on 🙂
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Jamie saysAugust 5, 2015 at 10:40 am
Felicity, I agree, it always takes a bit more prep and forward thinking…its forever a work in progress 😉