It’s meal time and it’s meal time NOW! I know this because I can feel the symphony orchestra playing in my stomach with my T-shirt and jersey. To my surprise no one asked me to turn down the volume. I’m not sure I have the time it takes for the food I have in the fridge to be made. I am sure I will be unconscious and faint on the ground by then! So I run down the corner to get some food in the fastest place I can find. It got to the point where I realized that the money I had just spent would have made 2 or 3 meals if I had gone to the store and bought groceries. I would also feel fat and isolated if I made a delicious home-cooked meal with no secret ingredients.

I am sure many can deal with this situation. In today's busy world, when even five-year-olds have more social calendars than I do, we live a life full of very little cooking time. This is one of the reasons why the fast food industry is a billion dollars. Here's what I know for sure, though: cooking is nutritious AND saves you money. Life and money, now these are the two things we can all spend the most! After all our lives are truly our treasure. So let me extend your life and save some money for retirement by sharing some of my tried and true time-saving tips in the kitchen.

1: Plan ahead

Healthy eating this year will not be done unless you plan ahead. And the first step in any plan is to determine when it will happen. Just as you plan other important appointments, set aside time each day or several times a week to prepare your meals. Make sure you respect your commitment to yourself. Also helpful at the beginning of the week, write down the foods you want to eat throughout the week. This eliminates the task of guessing and the pressure of trying to figure out what dinner is when the time is at stake.

2: Prepare meals in one pot

Be good at making soups, stews and casseroles. These dishes, usually made with different categories of food, are usually full of both flavor and texture. For example, a delicious winter soup is a great way to get grain, vegetables and a source of protein all at once. Making one pot food saves time and effort again, as you will not be left with too many pots and pans to clean after your meal.

3: Prepare the basic ingredients in advance

If you know you often use onions, garlic, tomatoes and carrots in your cooking, then wash these items and chop them in your fridge so they are ready to go if you need them to cook. Also, wash, select and cut your new herbs and store them in the refrigerator. If you do not pick up the cleaned herbs right away, wrap them in paper towels and store them in a sealed plastic bag to enhance their youthfulness.

4: Cook once, eat often

This tip is what increasing your time in the kitchen is all about. It could mean that you are preparing a large amount of food to have a few days left. It may also mean that you cook a large amount of the basic ingredient and use it in a variety of ways throughout the week. The letters, for example, are very different. From a single pot of quinoa, you can have several dishes. Quinoa is great as a side dish for dinner, but then take the same quinoa and make breakfast porridge (be sure to clean it in a blender if you want a smooth consistency). And let us not forget that quinoa salad with parsley, carrots and cucumber with lemon vinaigrette is a refreshing and energetic dish! The possibilities are endless.

5: Cooking your food is an important habit

It makes you enjoy your food even more because you tend to appreciate what you are preparing. Proper balance of the whole diet and especially the amount of food can provide great protection in weight gain.

It can make fresh, healthy food if you do not have hours to spend in the kitchen. It only takes a little planning and creative work on your part. Like learning anything new, be patient with yourself as you learn these habits. Once these tips are easily incorporated into your routine, you will have less stress at meal time, more money in your bank account and more home-cooked meals and nutritious meals. As I like to say, a healthy stomach equals a happy stomach and a happy stomach equals a healthy person.

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