While there have always been 24 hours in a day, to many it feels that fewer minutes or even hours are available each day as time goes on. Cooking often takes a back burner for busy families because it is easy to pick up processed and fast foods. Planning meals is not that hard, even when you're in a rush, once you get organized.
Foods to keep in the freezer. Boneless chicken breasts and ground beef are some of the most versatile freezer staples for protein sources. To save even more time, cook up batches of chicken and beef and freeze them. Make sure the meat is well-done before freezing in order to prevent food-borne illness.
Also keep a stock of frozen vegetables on hand. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, these are the better than canned vegetables when you can't get fresh ones.
Fresh foods. Many people don't think they have time to deal with fresh fruits and vegetables because they spoil quickly. To save time, you can get the fresh or frozen chopped, packaged varieties. Also, choose smartly what you buy when time is of the essence. Fruits like apples last a long time, and fresh berries can be frozen. Carrots, rutabagas, parsnip and sweet potatoes last much longer than cucumbers and peppers, for example.
Spices and seasonings. Create your own flavor blends to make the same meals taste different every time. If you don't have time, buy the blends and label them according to use. For example, one jar for for chicken, one for fish, one for ground beef and one for vegetables.
Olive oil. Olive oil keeps longer than butter or margarine and is a healthier alternative. Use it for everything from frying foods to topping salads.
Simple recipe ideas. Having the right staples on hand only works when you know how to use them without having to search for recipes. Here are some easy ideas: