If You're Always on the Go
As I stated last week, there are many ways that I approach kitchen organizing. If the kitchen belongs to a baker, I will organize it much differently than I would for someone who has young children, or who is constantly running out the door. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share tips for every type of kitchen-dweller.
If you’re always on the go, here are my best practices.
MAKE BREAKFAST AS EASY AS POSSIBLE
One way to help start out busy days on the right foot is to keep breakfast nice and simple. Keeping cereal grains and dried fruit in individual airtight containers sets you up for a quick and healthy breakfast that can be thrown together in minutes. Nutrient-packed oatmeal, parfaits, and quick bowls are great options for those mornings when you’re rushing out the door but want something healthy and that will keep you going! Simply having a well-stocked arsenal of these grains (think rolled or steel-cut oats, granola, rice puffs), nuts and dried fruits ready at-hand on your pantry shelf really helps put the fast in breakfast. Toss a few of these together in a bowl or sealable to-go container, add your favorite toppings like fresh fruit, honey, or almond milk and you have an instant (and delicious) breakfast, perfect for when you're on the run.
Raw nuts and nut butters are also one of my favorite quick-and-healthy tricks, as they add healthy fats to my diet and they keep me satisfied for hours at a time. I like to keep these stored in glass jars and ready for snacking, adding to recipes, topping salads or just tossing into a bowl with some yogurt, sliced fruit and honey, for a light and nutritious morning meal. As I’ve said before, the key with raw nuts is to keep them stored in proper places (think: cool, dark pantry, refrigerator or freezer)! This helps maintain their precious oils, flavor and nutritional benefits! If you’d like to know more, read my previous Note on how I like to store my nuts, and why.
BE SNACK- READY
In the Fridge
Keeping prepped veggies like carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumber on hand in glass containers in the refrigerator makes healthy snacking a snap! I actually prefer to wash all veggies as soon as I get home from the market. This way, whenever I’m rushing to make a salad or start chopping veggies for a meal, half the work is already done! One less prep step really saves time.
Having dips like hummus and salsa stocked and ready for easy (and healthy) on-the-go snacking is another great way to ensure healthful options when you open the fridge for an afternoon nibble. Sabra makes delicious single-serving hummus packs that suffice as a great snack when you’re too busy to stop and eat. I also buy stainless single serving size to-go containers to take salsa or other dips on the run.
In the Pantry
I think it’s a good idea to have healthy snack options like dried fruit, trail mix and whole-grain crackers or chips ready in easy-to-grab packaging for an afternoon energy boost. Trader Joe’s has a wonderful selection of trek mixes, ranging from organic and all raw nut-and-fruit mixes, to their deliciously decadent peanut butter cup ‘Trax Mix’. Having these on hand in single serving-size bags is yet another way to make on-the-go snacking not only healthy but enjoyable as well!
Having individual packets of almond, peanut and cashew butters to grab along with fruit on the way out makes healthful munching an absolute breeze. Simply keep fresh apples in your Crisper drawer, and a handful of these Artisana Organics or Justin’s Squeeze Packs in your pantry (in a storage container, of course) and you’re set! This simple tip can help keep you satisfied and away from those way-too-easy to grab cookies or other - less healthful options.
Keeping healthy “quick cook” options ready to go in your pantry is another great way to encourage kids to reach for a nutritional option instead of chips or other, more processed, ‘snack’ foods. My favorites include Ancient Harvest packages of Quinoa with Chickpeas, or Brown Rice and Quinoa. Miracle Noodle also makes Curry and Pad Thai in easy-to-use packages. Keeping a designated area in my pantry with items such as these ensures that there are always good-for-you options available, should a snack attack arise!
In the Freezer
I keep small containers of freshly-squeezed lemon juice in the freezer as well. That way, I always have some handy for adding to drinks, salads and recipes that call for a splash of the tangy citrus. It’s so easy to add to so many things and adds a fresh, bright flavor to any cooking recipe; simply defrost it and there you go!
One more quick freezer trick I like to employ is to buy pre-crushed garlic and store it in the ice box. (Shh, it’s my secret!) The peeling, chopping or pressing of garlic always slows me down, but this way, I can keep moving along with whatever I’m making and avoid the laborious peeling, chopping and cleaning-up that comes with fresh garlic. A brand I love for this is Simply Beyond. It is organic and comes pre-chopped!
KEEP QUICK DINNER OPTIONS ON-HAND
Pasta is the perfect go-to dinner for when you’re short on time. Having your favorite dry pastas and tomato or pasta sauces ready to be used makes weeknight meals stress-free. I have an entire section of a pantry shelf devoted just to these items, so it makes whipping up a weeknight meal as easy as can be.
Other nights, if you make something like soup, chili or lasagna (i.e. easy-to-freeze-ables), you can consider making extra to freeze for a quick dinner solution another night! Simply remove the item from the freezer and place in the fridge to defrost in the morning, and dinner should be ready to heat up come suppertime.
I keep what I like to call ‘fundamental foods’ (onions, garlic, potatoes, celery, carrots, etc.) on hand for turning a quick meal into something fresh, delicious, and nutritious. These hearty produce items can keep in the pantry or fridge for upwards of a week and can form the basis of those last-minute meals when you don’t have time to run to the store. Delicious soups, fresh pasta sauces, mouth-watering stir-fry’s, and countless other dishes can all be made with these ingredients as their base!
Another time-saving tip is to buy organic chicken breast at the butcher shop. I have them cut it into one-inch pieces, and then wrap it into one-pound servings. I keep these on hand in my freezer at all times - they’re perfect for defrosting last-minute and throwing into a stir-fry, veggie bowl, or pasta dish. This has saved me on many rushed school nights.