Whether you're a gourmet style chef when it comes to cooking the dinner or whether the microwave is your friend, sometimes there is still not enough time to prepare the fresh meals you wish you could have.
I have 2 main time saving pieces of advice that will not only save you time in your busy week, but also allow you to have home-cooked meals every day.
My first tip is to get into a bit of batch cooking. I started doing this a few years ago when I wanted to lose some weight and started following Joe Wicks - The Body Coach. He suggests that by batch cooking you can cook healthy food, place each meal into a container that is the right portion size for you and by having food already prepared for each meal time then you are unlikely to eat something less nutritious because you just need something quick and easy at the end of the day when you're tired or when you've got little time to eat during your lunch break at work.
As well as this making a positive impact on my weight loss and healthy eating in general, I also found that I started saving lots of time during the week when I no longer had to prepare dinner for the family each night. I found I had more time to get other things done either around the house, getting more of my 'to do' list completed or simply having more quality time to spend with the children.
For people that work late and get home even later, the thought of coming back to a home cooked meal that just needs to be warmed up must also be enticing because even if you enjoy cooking, you may not have the energy to be doing it to a high standard on weekday evenings.
So on a Sunday afternoon or early evening if we have plans during the day, I tend to pop on the oven and spend approximately 1-2 hours prepping and cooking meals to last the first half of the week. This might sound like a lot of time to take out of your Sunday, but I do actually enjoy cooking and doing it all in one go on a day when I'm not pushed for time is so much better than cobbling together a meal that is a bit rushed every evening.
My second piece of advice is to invest in a slow cooker if you haven't got one already. If you do have one, but rarely use it then get it down now, dust it off and rediscover the joy of cooking with this brilliant piece of kitchen equipment! After batch cooking for the first half of the week, I tend to use my slow cooker without fail during the second half of each week. The slow cooker can turn even the cheapest cuts of meat into mouth-watering tender meals that will be hot and ready to eat when you get home from work.
Whether you are a meat eater or not, slow cooker meals are amazing. You can literally throw all ingredients in one go before you leave for work in the morning, leave it to do its magic throughout the day and come back to a lovely fresh meal that just needs to be spooned onto a plate! I was surprised at how many different meals you can cook in the slow cooker from curries, soups and pulled pork to lasagne and even hot puddings.
I sometimes also use it at the weekends as you can cook some lovely meals that can be cooking ready for when you come back from enjoying your weekend activities. Just another way to save you time so you can fully enjoy life! As long as you do a bit of meal planning when you go shopping so you know what you need then you can just pop the ingredients in on the morning you would like that meal, taking only a couple of minutes out of your day instead of the 30+ minutes at the end of the day that it would have taken otherwise to cook something quality and fresh.
If you are thinking of getting a slow cooker or using the one that's currently residing at the back of your cupboard, then I highly recommend getting one with a pot that is divided into 2 halves. This has been a brilliant addition to slow cooking as it allows you to either cook 2 meals at once (this can help with the batch cooking!) or you can cook 2 components of the same meal together. For example cook the chilli or curry in one side and the rice in the other.
If you think you might be stuck for ideas on what to cook in a slow cooker or that there is a limit to what can be cooked in one, then think again! You'll be surprised when you search for slow cooker recipes online what you can find and the variety of the recipes to choose from.