One of the challenges of giving up pre-packaged foods is the effort it takes to make everything. The harder a change is to make, the less likely you are to do it. So we wanted to share some of the things we do to make food prep easy (and therefore possible!).
If you enjoy spending hours in the kitchen hand-crafting each dish you make, then go for it! But do know that you're reading the wrong article and the information below will seem repulsive to you.
Frozen Fruits and Veggies
You can get a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables that are still organic. Foods like broccoli and cauliflower are much easier to work with when using the frozen variety because the fresh, full heads (particularly cauliflower) require too much prep. The frozen versions are real time savers.
In our smoothies, we use frozen fruits like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, mango, etc. These keep much longer than their fresh counterparts and they give the smoothie a shake-like temperature and consistency.
Bottled and Canned Goods
I'm a huge fan of minced garlic in a jar. I love garlic and we cook with a lot of it, but it is time-consuming to prepare fresh garlic cloves. Being able to grab a jar and spoon out a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic is huge.
We also use canned, diced tomatoes quite a bit to save on all the cutting and (sometimes) peeling. We still use a lot of fresh tomatoes, but for stews and any recipe where the tomato will be cooked, we use a can. You should be able to find organic, canned tomatoes easily. We prefer the taste of "fire-roasted" versions, but the difference is minimal.
This may seem obvious, but if a recipe has a hundred items in it that all have to be measured, cut, etc., that's going to be a deterrent to making it no matter how great the outcome. We seek out simple recipes with few ingredients and relatively little prep. And when we find them, we tend to use them repeatedly (and they end up here, on our site).
Some tools are just indispensable and a powerful blender is one of those must-have appliances. You may be able to do make do with a food processor, but the blender really is better. We use the Ninja Professional Blender & Nutri Ninja Cups. There are several bundles, but be sure and get one with the single-serve function. We actually have the Ninja Mega Kitchen System, but we don't really use the fodd processor base, so you can save a bit there. We did order a spare Ninja Single Serve Cup for when we need more than just one for each of us. I have heard good things about Vitamix and others, but we have experience with the Ninja and it works great.
We like fresh ground salt and pepper and I haven't found a better grinder than the OXO Good Grips Lewis Pepper Mill. We have two: one each for salt and pepper. It holds a lot of material, it's adjustable for "courseness" and the grinding mechanism is ceramic, so it should be (has been so far) unaffected by salt. The filler door does pop open a bit sometimes, but not in a way that spills anything, so I can live with that.
Peeling sweet potatoes can be a pain, but sweet potatoes are a staple for us, so I picked up the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler and it is a miracle worker! There is also a lesser, slighly less expensive version, OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler. I figured for the extra few dollars, the sturdier instrument was worth it. Plus, the one I got says, "Pro". Who doesn't want to be a Pro Peeler??
More to come
We'll keep adding to this page as we find more time-savers that we lean on!