1.10 014We’re big advocates of families sitting around a table and sharing at least one meal together each day because we’ve found that when we do this with our families, we’re able to reconnect, recharge and solidify our bond. It may not seem significant over the course of one meal or one week, but over a period of time, families are strengthened by this daily ritual.

A home cooked meal enhances this experience. Home cooked meals express love, care, respect and well-being. Think about your favorite comfort food. Most likely, it’s a dish prepared by a beloved family member. Along these lines, home cooked meals often supplement the best memories and some evolve into family traditions.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s often difficult to shop for and cook a healthy meal in time for dinner. We’ve definitely been guilty of too many consecutive nights of ordering take out, but in the past few years, we’ve gotten better at cooking the majority of our families’ meals. We’ve even learned a few shortcuts along the way.  Here are 5 tips to help you make more home cook meals:

  1. Do as much as you can ahead of time – Plan a menu for the week, create a shopping list, and go shopping in advance.  Clean and cut fresh vegetables and fruits on the weekend to save time during the actual cooking process during the week. Sundays are good days to make an extra meal that you can freeze and reheat later in the week when things get busy.  Do whatever you can to cut the time you spend in the kitchen.
  2. Join a CSA – A CSA, or community supported agriculture, is a farm that charges a membership fee and in lieu of that fee, members receive a box of freshly harvested produce weekly. Not only will you will have ample, nutritious produce on-hand for your meals, but you will also be supporting local agriculture and sustainability. Jenny is a CSA member and loves it!
  3. Have groceries delivered to your home – Getting to the grocery store can be one of hardest things to do between work and shuffling children between school and activities. Instead, order your groceries online and have them delivered to you. On Kauai, Joy doesn’t have this option, nor is there a CSA in her town. What is available to her is a company that delivers produce and other products from a variety of local farms and businesses directly to her front door. She takes advantage of this service and says that the cost of delivery is totally worth saving her time and sanity from not needing to go to the store as often as in the past.
  4. Use frozen veggies – Frozen veggies are many times our saving grace. They are cheaper than fresh produce, keep longer, and are ready-to-use (no need to take the time to clean or cut them). They are perfect for casseroles, soups, and side dishes. We especially like that there are more and more organic frozen veggie options available in stores these days.
  5. Use a slow cooker – There’s nothing more wonderful than putting a few ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and coming home in the evening to dinner that’s ready-to-eat (cue the angels singing: “Hallelujah!”). You can make breakfast in it too by starting the night before, which cuts minutes out of your morning routine.  One of the best things about the slow cooker is that there is no thawing required. Meat and veggies can be frozen when placed in the cooker (woot woot!).

Home cooked meals don’t have to be difficult to make.  Use these tips to whip up hearty, crowd-pleasing meals, and at the same time, bolster your family’s health and spirits.

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