5 Cooking Hacks For Busy Parents

woman cooking

As a working mother of three active boys, I am constantly trying out tactics that keep me efficient in the kitchen, while still providing my family with wholesome, nutritious meals. Below are five of my regular kitchen hacks that keep us eating healthy within minutes.

1. Cook a whole chicken

This automatically provides 2-3 meals for the family (of five). One night is chicken, quinoa, and vegetables, the next it’s tacos, and finally, it’s soup. I love a dish that can multi-task!

The way I cook the chicken is a hack in itself that I am crazy for! Heat the oven to 450 degrees (yes I know that is high for chicken!), prep your whole chicken by stuffing the cavity with one lemon sliced in half and a half of a head of garlic, herbs as desired, personally, I love rosemary! Rub olive oil on the skin, add salt and pepper.  Seriously, this takes 5 minutes. Cook the chicken for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave it in there for at least 30 more minutes or until you are ready to eat!  Yes, it continues to cook in the oven after it is turned off slow and gently.  Now, you can leave the house to run errands, go workout, pick up your kids or whatever else you need to do. The best part,  it will be ready and warm to eat when it’s dinner time. Oh and did I mention it will fall off the bone!  YUM!

2. Prepare foods to save time

Prepared foods – not necessarily prepared meals, but pre-grated, cut, spiralized and even marinated ingredients can save you tons of time. Many markets, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer pre-grated cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles these days. Eliminating the prep time ultimately reduces your overall time in the kitchen. One of my family’s go-to weeknight meals involves sauteed cauliflower rice or zoodles in ghee or coconut oil with diced onion and topped with an egg  or grilled salmon and avocado.

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3. Freeze food

Frozen vegetables and shrimp are freezer staples in my household. These simple ingredients make a quick dinner that is loaded with nutrients. Did you know that frozen veggies are just as, if not more nutritious than fresh because they are frozen at the time of harvest!  And shrimp defrost real quick under running water and cook in about 4 minutes. My go-to dish here: toss defrosted shrimp in pesto and broil 2 minutes per side. Steam or sautee the frozen veggies, top with broiled shrimp, sprinkle Parmesan cheese and you have dinner! Feel free to add your favorite grain or pasta underneath all this goodness too!

4. Food delivery services

I have recently found a new food delivery service that is organic and shipped frozen to your home called Euphebe. Why do I love this over any other food delivery service?  Besides their yummy ingredients and nutritionally balanced meals, you don’t have to rush to eat it.  By being in the freezer you can eat it on the nights you are home but not fear that it will go bad or go to waste if your plans change.  You can even bring it for lunch!  I love foods that multitask!

5. Breakfast for dinner

Dinner doesn’t have to be so complicated. Eggs cook up really quickly and making avocado toast or even PB&J for dinner with a quick side salad or piece of fruit works, too. Think outside of the box – dinner doesn’t have to be traditional and kids love pancakes any time of the day (I use a whole grain mix when in a crunch!).

Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. She is internationally recognized for her individualized, lifestyle-focused approach, which integrates realistic food plans, smart eating habits, and active living. To learn more, visit realnutritionnyc.com and follow @realnutrition on Instagram!