One of the most common comments I hear from my Low Carb folks is they want this to be EASY. Y’all are busy. You have families and jobs and lives outside the kitchen. You want to just do your thing without a lot of fuss and without going out-of-you-mind bored eating the same things, over and over.
So here are a few of my time-and-effort-saving hacks, in case one sparks a little inspiration for you. Lucky for you, I’m a lazy cook.
Little Ideas (That Add Up)
- Make Leftovers intentionally – I love to cook a whole lot more than we can eat on any given night, since that means I’ll get the next few days off of kitchen duty! Leftovers can feed the family over the next several days or be used for lunches or even breakfast. Who says breakfast has to be a certain kind of food?
- With Carb-Eaters in the House – Share the same meat and veggies, but add a side or two for them. You can have your taco fixings in a bowl if you don’t have (or use) low carb tortillas while they use whatever they use. They can have rolls or potatoes with the roast, while you enjoy your salad, The main idea is everybody eats the same stuff as much as possible. Don’t try to make multiple dinners for the carb eaters and the low carb every day, or you’ll be pulling out your hair in short order.
- Mason Jar Salads for Quick Meals – Easy to assemble several days in advance and grab and go for lunch or a light dinner.
- Freeze Treats – Whenever I make low carb cookies, I’ll wrap up a couple at a time in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. It’s great portion control and you’ll have something on hand if you get a sweet hankering.
- Just Double Up Dinners – If you are not ready to dive into full-on cooking for a month in a day–it does look intimidating to me!–what about just doubling your dinners every night for a week? You’ve just cooked a week in advance with little if any extra effort. If you’re not sure about whether a dish freezes well or not, I’d try freezing a single serving first. Then you have an easy lunch and there’s no worry you’re going to waste a lot if it is less-than-spectacular reheated.
- Two Words: Crock Pot – You know what I’m talking about! (And yes, we do have some crock pot recipes in our collection.)
- Ground Beef Dinner “Starter Kit” – I love to buy bulk hamburger or sausage and cook a lot at once. I may season it with salt and pepper and maybe onion and garlic powder or really, whatever I’ve got that looks good, and then let it cool in the fridge and divvy it up for the freezer using my Foodsaver. The cooked ground beef can be tossed in a skillet to fry with cabbage and bacon bits, or used for a casserole base with some frozen cauliflower or broccoli, or added to some pasta sauce to use with your zoodles. Really, what can’t you do with cooked ground beef? Or mix the ground beef and sausage together. Whatever works for what you like!
- Patty Up the Ground Beef – I LOVE-LOVE my silicone molds for making burgers. I add whatever seasonings I have on hand before the meat is frozen and plop the finished mix in molds for freezing. You can leave them in the molds in your freezer, or take them out and store them in groups of however many you’d cook for a single dinner. In case you’re like me and not sure how to use them, just fill up the deep part with meat and snap on the cover and boom! I bought two so I could freeze more at once but even one would help.
- All Veggies are Mixed Veggies – At least in my world! I usually dump my veggies leftovers together. I may reheat them as-is, or add them to soups or casseroles or skillet dishes.
- Easy Reheat Pie – I use pie pans and just plop in a little of everything I’m reheating together. Meat over here, veggies over there. One big spoon to dish it out. If I have something that can’t go in as long, I will add it after it’s been in for a while. But most things, you can put in an oven at about 325 degrees for maybe 20 minutes or so and it’s all hot and ready to go. Maybe this wouldn’t suit super picky eaters, but it’s one of my favorite tricks for a super-easy dinner.
- Plan Ahead, With Leftovers in Mind – Today’s pork roast can be this weekend’s casserole. I will often look at ingredients I’m buying for any given dinner with the thought, “What are other ways I could use this?” Tomorrow’s tacos can become a casserole the next day. Leftover meats can be cut up and alfredo sauced up and become something entirely new. (Yeah, there’s a reason why I hesitate to call myself “a food blogger.” Ha! But I’m willing to bet there are plenty more people out there like me.)
- Leftover Surprise – One of my favorite dinners is to put together all the leftovers that I have just a bit of, not really enough for a full meal , and call it “Leftover Surprise.” As in, surprise! We have leftovers!
- Bagged Coleslaw – Of course, you can make your own and it’s generally gonna be cheaper. But I told you, I’m lazy! I like to use a little as a side over a few days and then, when it’s looking like I need to use it up soon, toss the rest in a skillet with some ground beef for a super easy dinner.
For me, it’s all about looking for ways to cut down on the daily energy expenditure with a little planning and a dash of creativity. It probably helps that I’m not the type to break out in hives if I’m missing the right seasoning or something.
I’m not a fancy cook. I’m a MOM Cook. I learned to cook from feeding my family over the years and working with what we had on hand. Because goodness knows, I didn’t feel like going out to shop after getting home from the office.
But maybe you need a little more than my lazy shortcuts. If so, maybe one of these services could meet your needs better. Bonus: I have discount codes for some of ’em. Happy cooking!
Meats: Zaycon Foods
Want fresher-than-you-can-get-pretty-much-anyplace-else, quality meat on the cheap–and easy? Maybe Zaycon Fresh is for you. It’s a drive-through meat service that can help you save not just time, but money. The meat goes straight from the farm to Zaycon, to you. This is a great option for people who want to get into bulk/once-a-month type cooking–an excellent option to save time and make sure you have healthy dinners, ready-to-go at a moment’s notice.
You’ll need a freezer, because these are big boxes. You can find what they will have and when in your area on their website. Be sure you sign up early though, because they often sell out. They were even featured on Good Morning America. Got more questions? Check out their FAQ.
Check out Zaycon & use the code NEW615 for $25 off your order (until 6/15/17)
Deal is for new customers, with a minimum order $99.
Meats: Butcher Box
I told y’all about Butcher Box a while back, a meat subscription service that focuses on organic, grass-fed meats of whatever kind you choose, delivered to your front door packed in dry ice. Can’t get much easier than that! I liked the meat and I especially liked having different cuts and recipe cards with ideas. I’m not a super adventurous cook, so anything that encourages me to experiment and includes enough information to foster success is a good thing. And anything that saves me time shopping and figuring out what to do with what I’ve bought is another win in my book.
Need Atkins-friendly, ready-made meals or lunches? Diet-to-Go may be your answer (read my review here). The food was definitely cut above frozen meals you can buy at the grocery store, using real-food ingredients and I found plenty of options for people who avoid gluten. If you have trouble with staying on track at work, these would make wonderful work lunches or travel meals (if you have access to a mini-fridge and microwave travelling). My only recommendation is to have seasonings to add, but that’s a personal preference. I like zing!
Snacks: Keto Delivered
It was a lot of fun to try out all the goodies in the curated collection of Keto food offered by Keto Delivered. I liked every single thing in that box, which surprised me. I figured something wouldn’t suit me, but I was wrong.
In addition to some easy snacks from the monthly box of Keto surprises, I found it was just nice to discover new foods that somebody else has already tested without becoming my own guinea pig, you know? I didn’t have to research everything first and read reviews and buy full-size packages. I could just enjoy the food. My box had recipes for featured items and discounts for getting more of my new favorites.
Meal Plans: Healthy Pursuit
If you’re doing Keto for the first time, you know the planning bits be daunting and time consuming. (I don’t Keto myself because the tracking makes me crazy, but it certainly works great for a lot of people.) I recently discovered the work of Leanne Vogel (no relation), Holistic Nutritionist and mastermind behind Healthy Pursuit. And she knows her stuff. Her work will best suit folks who care a lot about eating naturally, and she has plenty of options to make things easier for people with allergy issues (dairy-free, egg-free, etc.).
Meal Plans: Keto Academy
You probably already know Craig because we share his recipes on Facebook all the time! What you may not know is that he has some great, interactive meal plans at the Keto Academy, in addition to shopping lists and of course, advice to keep you on course.
That’s what I’ve got for you today. I hope one of these ideas will make a difference in your everyday, low-carb life.
How do you make your everyday low carb life easier and quicker?