Preparing foods from scratch allows us to better control what we are eating. By staying closer to food's original form we maintain better nutrition and overall heath. Processed foods tend to be higher in sugars, salt, fats, calories and preservatives. In choosing to prepare our own food we consume far less of the things that adversely affect our health.
I purchase the best quality ingredients I can easily afford to prepare our foods. Because time is always an issue I look for shortcuts in my preparation.
Make items in larger quantities
Schedule investment cooking time
Use a slow cooker
Simplify recipes and meal plans
Eat more foods as they are - fresh fruit, raw vegetables, green salads, nuts, etc.
There are several items I routinely prepare from scratch and use on a regular basis:
Pancakes, crepes, waffles
Pancake syrups, jams, jellies
Rice, rice pilaf
Macaroni salad, potato salad, pasta salad
Surprisingly it takes very little extra time to make you food from scratch. In less time than it takes to order take out and wait for delivery one can easily prepare a fresh delicious healthy meal.
Rather than head to the store deli or drive thru on the way home from work head straight home, defrost some chicken breasts or lean beef in the microwave while you prepare a nice salad. By the time the salad is finished your meat will be thawed and ready to cook and season. While your meat cooks you have time to make a nice dressing and slice up some fresh bread.
On the weekends make it a routine to schedule a little time for food preparation. Bake some bread, make some yogurt or a nice dessert. Put dried beans in your slow cooker. Once tender divide them into freezer containers. Whenever you need a can of beans you can easily pull one of these containers out and quickly thaw in the microwave or add directly to your recipe.
Investing a little time and effort in preparing your foods will definitely pay off in the long run. You'll know what you are eating, you will find healthier ways to eat and you'll probably save some money too.