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Episode 136: Take the Overwhelm Out of Cooking with Kat's Kitchen Hacks

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When I say the word 'cooking', what immediately comes to your mind?

Long, complicated recipes?

Ingredients you've never heard of?

Hours of slaving away in the kitchen?

A horrible mess to clean up?

Too many recipes to pick from?

In this light, it's understandable why so many of us would rather eat out.

We already are leading such busy, work-intensive lives, who would willingly add more to their plate? (no pun intended)

But here's the thing... this week I posted a photo of a side of fries on my Instagram stories and I asked people to vote on how many calories they thought were in said fries.

The options were 300, 700, 1100, or 1500. Go ahead, take a guess before you read on. 

By far, most people guessed 700. 

The real answer? 1500. Actually, 1560 to be exact. For a SIDE of fries!!

And this points to a few major problems with eating out when you have a weight loss goal. 

1. We drastically underestimate how many calories are in the dishes we're being served.

2. The way restaurants prepare their food sets us up to potentially get an entire day's worth of calories in one side.

Now think about your regular eating out experience where you might have a cocktail or two, share an appetizer, get a main meal, and a side (and possibly a dessert on top of that).

Suddenly it becomes clear why even if you eat clean all week, even just a few nights out can have a massive impact on your weight and health.  

Which is why I wanted to make this episode, to share my very best home-cooking advice to make the experience less daunting (and more delicious) for you. 

Using these strategies, I get in and out of my kitchen in 30 minutes or less, no muss, no fuss.  

When we nourish ourselves in this way, it's the ultimate action of self-love. So let's get into it!

1. Have 3-5 core meals that you know you can make in 10 minutes or less. And make sure to always have those ingredients on hand. 

For me this looks like always having...

  • Frozen fruits, veggies, and my chocolate vegan shakeology for a quick and easy shake. 
  • Eggs and avocados in the fridge and gluten free bread in the freezer to make a quick avocado toast.
  • Fruit, veggies, hummus, olives, and organic lunch meat on hand to do a healthy charcuterie board. 
  • Organic rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for a comforting bowl of oatmeal (which I will sometimes add an egg to).
  • Frozen veggies, frozen cauliflower rice, frozen shrimp, gluten free soy sauce, and sesame oil for a quick and easy fried rice.

2. Find a go-to spice mixture that you know will pack a punch and make even the simplest meals explode with flavor. 

By and large my meals are extraordinarily simple.

More often than not I'll roast or sauté veggies and a protein (usually in the same pan to minimize clean up) and I'll just add cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning, Chinese 5 spice, or my favorite: salt, pepper, lemon, and garlic to turn it from basic to mouth-watering.

3. Invest in some good tools.

Start with a chef's knife and consider joining Rouxbe online cooking school for $9.99/month for a fantastic tutorial on proper knife skills. (No I'm not an affiliate, just a fan!)

We all know chopping can be the most time-consuming part of any meal. You can cut that time in half (again, no pun intended) with a good, sharp chef's knife and the proper technique. This was a game-changer in my own cooking journey. 

A few other tools I couldn't live without are my oil spray bottle (this seriously helps control how much oil you're using which plays a major roll in the finally calorie count of your meal), my Vitamix (perfect for making super fast and super smooth shakes, soups, and even pesto), and my ceramic non-stick pans (teflon is horrible for you, throw it away, seriously). 

4. Cook once eat a whole lot of times. 

I am always looking for ways to reuse and repurpose dishes I've made. 

Sometimes that comes in the form of simply re-heating leftovers. (By the way, how you reheat makes a huge difference. Reheat grains covered, over low heat, with a bit of water. Reheat protein and veggies in the oven.)

Sometimes it comes in the form of taking one component of a meal and turning it into something new.

Maybe I made too much guacamole on taco night, so the next day I'll use it for avocado toast. 

Maybe I made a pot of rice for a stir fry, and the next day I'll turn it into a rice and veggie soup. 

Maybe I roasted up some veggies as a side, and the next day I add them cold to a sandwich. 

5. Get playful in the kitchen!! Make it fun!

If you want to be consistent, you've got to find a way to enjoy this process. I'm not saying you need to become a cooking nerd like me, but there are things you can do to remove your barriers to action.

One person shared with me that she challenged herself to not eat out for 30 days. This meant when she craved a certain restaurant dish she had to find the recipe and try to make it herself and she loved it!

I myself will pick 1 or 2 new recipes to try each week to open up my repertoire and to make sure I never get bored eating the same dishes day in and day out. 

Even finding ways of enjoying the act itself can be helpful: pour yourself a small glass of wine, turn up the music, and have some fun!!

Did you find any of these tips helpful? Post to social media sharing your home-cooking shenanigans and remember to tag me @katspanglerunleashed!


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