A Thanksgiving feast; even with these you can save time by judicious use of the crockpot(s).

As we roll into the holiday season, it seems everyone I talk to is bemoaning their lack of time. Then in the next breath, they’re onto what happened on “Real Housewives” or “Dog the Bounty Hunter” in last night’s show. Ummm – maybe there’s a connection? Where I’m going with this is that the feeling of not having enough time often leads people to take shortcuts, especially in meal preparation.
There’s no question that pre-cut vegetables, cole slaw mix and salads, peeled and chopped fruits, and similar prepared foods save time. Commercially canned foods, microwavable meals and Hamburger Helper ditto. Unfortunately, in many cases, what you gain in time you lose in nutrition (and money). Now, I’m fond of saving I’m efficient because I’m lazy – I want to do it fast, get it out of the way and move on to the next thing. That’s particularly important to me right now because I’ve got four jobs on my plate – clinic nurse manager, consulting, freelance writing and ranch wife. Oh yeah, and then there’s the housekeeper-laundress-chief-cook-and-bottle-washer one, which is always at the bottom of the list. But I still cook or fix three meals a day (hubby cooks his own breakfast because my day starts considerably earlier than his, but I cook one for myself).

One of the best ways to capture maximum nutrition (and taste) is to harvest, prep and cook immediately, as I’m doing here with ratatouille.

I’m not bragging here, I’m trying to make a point. We all have 24 hours in a day. We choose how we spend our time and money based on our priorities. Mine are health, nutrition, adequate sleep, family and the health of my animals, land and community, as well as staying out of debt so I have enough money to live the way I want to. When the next economic crash comes (and it is coming – guaranteed), I want to know that my family and I will survive and hopefully thrive. To that end, among other things, I cook.

Starting with cookies is a great way to get kids hooked on cooking.

Cooking is one of those basic life skills everyone should have. By that I mean real cooking – everyone should know how to peel a carrot, slice an onion, brown meat or bake a loaf of bread. Cooking does not mean taking the little plastic tray out of the box from the freezer and putting it in the microwave. I can have dinner for five ready in half an hour in many cases. Or something like a roast (put in the oven straight out of the freezer) in four hours on a Sunday afternoon, so all that’s left is a quick salad and a veggie dish. And I can do other things while the roast cooks (although I can assure you it isn’t watching TV in any form).
If you want to save time and reap multiple other benefits, please cook!

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