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Schedule Time for Cooking the Mediterranean Way

Cooking is a crucial strategy in the Mediterranean lifestyle because it helps you lean more toward eating fresh, plant-based foods and away from depending on prepackaged meals or on restaurants. Cooking may already be a regular part of your world, or it may only happen once a week. Luckily, you don’t have to cook every single day to benefit from the Mediterranean diet.

To incorporate cooking into your schedule, choose how often you cook on any given week. Managing your time and figuring out ahead of time how much time you have to cook are key factors. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you only have time a few nights a week, schedule those evenings for cooking and make enough leftovers for the next day. Treat this appointment like an important date you can’t break.

  • Short on time every night? Choose recipes that take less than 20 minutes to prepare. For example, a small fillet of fish takes about 8 minutes to cook; pair that with a large salad and some crusty whole-grain bread and you’ve got a home-cooked dinner in no time.

  • Utilize batch cooking.

  • Rearrange your schedule to find time to cook dinner several nights a week. Maybe you frequently run errands after work that you can push off to one day a week or the weekend.

Keep the following time-management tips in mind as you figure out how much time you can devote to cooking:

  • Focus on one cooked dish. While your dish is cooking, you can rely on gathering fresh ingredients that require no cooking time (only prep time) for the rest of your meal. This strategy can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed in the kitchen. After you get the hang of it, you can slowly add another cooked dish and then another.

  • Look at the prep and cooking times on each recipe. When you’re planning, make sure you allow yourself enough time to follow through as well as time to eat. You may be able to easily cook two to three dishes if they have minimal prep work and short cooking times.

    Don’t underestimate how long certain tasks take. Cooking takes time. People often abandon the new, healthy changes they were going to make because of time-management problems.

    Here’s what happens: You make a meal plan for the week), buy the groceries, and then continue on with your normal schedule. But then you find that recipe you were going to make on Wednesday needs 45 minutes of prep and cooking time, and you only have about 20 minutes to spare. If you find yourself in that situation . . .

  • Making changes to your plans is okay. Life happens to everyone, even the best chefs. If you get home too late one night to prepare your planned dish, postpone your cooking for another night and throw together a quick meal instead.

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