Skip the drive-through and wipe the dust off your Joy of Cooking. “Preparing more home-cooked meals is all about planning and implementing time-saving strategies,” says Ponichtera, a mother of two. Take time during the weekend to create dinner menus for the coming week, with input from all family members, and make a detailed grocery list. This way you can get everything you need ahead of time and in one shot. Ponichtera also stresses the “cook once, serve twice” trick where you purposely make double the recipe and serve leftovers later — with different sides for variety. Need help with menu planning? Check out Delicious Living's database of healthy, time-saving dinner recipes at deliciouslivingmag.com/food/quick/ or check out Ponichtera's Quick and Healthy Recipes and Ideas, Volume II (Small Steps, 2009).
When time becomes a premium, toss ingredients for stews or chilies into a slow cooker in the morning. “Always have a few homemade dishes that can be easily warmed up, such as lasagna, soups, and casseroles, in your freezer,” adds Ponichtera. You can also freeze food in lunch-size containers to take to work. On days when you do have time to cook, make salads and dressings, or bean, vegetable, and grain side dishes, so they will be ready accompaniments for the week's entrées. If possible, get your kids to help. “Involving children in the meal prep not only saves parents time but also teaches kids valuable cooking skills they might otherwise lack,” says Ponichtera.
Canadian-based dietitian and nutrition writer Matthew Kadey enjoys active vacations — such as cycling around Thailand — to keep trim.