Far too many of us, myself included, rely on the local deli for lunch. When you're a 9-to-5'er (or more) you probably don't want to think about preparing meals when you get home from work. And so goes a vicious cycle that sees you spending too much money on food that probably isn't satisfying your nutritional needs the way a homemade meal can.
To help you make the transition from lunch buyer to lunch maker, here are five helpful tips:
1. JOIN A WAREHOUSE-STYLE STORE
The annual fee (usually $50 or less) is well worth the savings you'll accrue by regularly shopping at a discount warehouse. You'll find almost all the foods on your menu at a club store, simplifying your weekly shopping trip.
2. BUY READY-TO-EAT FOODS
When it comes to protein, canned fish and chicken makes for a quick, easy option with no cooking required. Among the seafood available in a can are sardines, salmon, oysters, octopus and tuna. There are even relatively healthy canned chili options that only require heating to become a delicious, filling and healthy meal. And canned foods have long shelf lives, making them even more convenient.
3. PREP FOOD ONCE A WEEK
Doing most of your food prep once a week provides a solution to one of the most difficult nutritional issues: time management. Devote a couple of hours to cooking once a week, and the rest of the week you will be able to make healthy meals in a modicum of time. The goal is to prepare as much food as you can without spending all your time in the kitchen.
4. DEFROST IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Move meat from the freezer to the refrigerator a day before it will be cooked. It takes longer to defrost meat this way, but it will add storage life after it's been cooked (and help you avoid food poisoning). Put only as much meat in the refrigerator as you plan to cook the next day.
5. PREPACKAGE YOUR MEALS
Once you've cooked several portions of meat, package it so it's safe and convenient to eat. Place servings into individual containers that are safe to use in a microwave oven. (Some plastic containers are not microwavable and should be avoided.) As an alternative, place what you've cooked into one large container and parcel out your meals on a daily basis (cooked meat should safely last in a fridge for three or four days).
To find out more about Shawn Perine and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.