Kitchen Systems 101

Fast, efficient, healthy ways to feed your busy life Finding it trickier to eat healthy with today's around-the-clock lifestyle? Wish you had a workable rhythm for cooking (and eating) wholesome meals regularly? Try these pro tips to help tune up your recipe system, shopping strategies, and cooking practices, so you get more satisfaction in the kitchen – and a far greater return on your cooking investment.

Go digital

That bookshelf of cookbooks is so romantic. But you can't put it in your pocket and take it to the grocery store. With a digital app such as Paprika Recipe Manager, you can. Plus, going digital makes it fast and easy to organize your recipes, plan your menus, schedule meals, and automate your shopping lists – then archive your best ideas so they're easy to repeat.

Here are a few advantages of going mobile in the kitchen.

  • Curate your own virtual cookbook
    Paprika's built-in browser lets you save recipes from anywhere on the Web, so you can easily curate a collection in one single, simple-to-use custom cookbook that's available on any device. Often, you can even find your recipe card and cookbook favorites online – then enter them automatically. Or enter recipes manually once, then view them digitally forever after.
  • Schedule meals for the week
    When you take the time to map out a meal plan for an entire week, you can be thoughtful about when, where, and how to shop, prep, and cook. This weekly rhythm can eliminate the scattershot shopping and frantic figuring about what to serve for dinner when you arrive home from work and everyone's ready to eat.
  • Plan and save menus
    From "15-minute teen feasts" to "Gourmet hors d'oeuvres for entertaining," the Paprika "menus" feature lets you create and curate purposeful collections of recipes you love. And this can save you time, energy and stress the next time you're feeding a football team or hosting an elegant dinner party.
  • Automate grocery lists for each meal, menu, day, or week
    Whether you are shopping for a full week's scheduled meals or you decide on dinner as you're walking into the grocery store, a recipe app such as Paprika can serve up your ingredient list in an instant – organized by store locations such as dairy, produce, snacks, spices, and seasonings – so you can get what you need, fast.

Of course, you don't need a digital app to take any of these time-saving and stress-busting steps. Going mobile just makes it a bit simpler to keep both thoughtful planning and spontaneous shopping at your fingertips.

Get more yum with less effort

We all want to enjoy the benefits of preparing healthy, delicious food with fewer hassles. Here are some ways to make the most of every minute you spend shopping, prepping and cooking.

  • Shop less
    Keep large quantities of staples (legumes, nuts, dried grains, canned meats and vegetables, baking flours, olive oil) on hand so you only need to make one or two quick trips to the grocery store weekly for fresh ingredients. 
  • Prep less
    From using a food processor or blender to purchasing peeled and ready-to-use garlic, ginger and butternut squash, to chopping a large volume of veggies once a week, experiment with ways to reduce prep time, and then repeat whatever works best.
  • Cook smarter
    One-pot meals are a great way to increase efficiency and reduce clean-up. The hugely popular Instant Pot gives you the simplicity of the slow-cooker, plus the speed of pressure cooking. This can make complex meals much simpler, in a fraction of the time.
  • Feed your soul
    In the movie Like Water for Chocolate, a baker's tears translate to gastronomical distress for those who eat her cake. This cautionary tale reminds us that it's good for everyone when the chef is delighted. This may mean having your favorite sous-chef with you in the kitchen, listening to your favorite podcasts, talking on the phone to a friend, or simply reveling in the pleasure of preparing food. Whatever nourishes you as you cook is likely to create a better result for all.

Cook once, eat twice 

One of the best ways to maximize your impact in the kitchen is by cooking a double batch of every meal you prepare. For far less effort, you'll end up with enough leftovers to get you through the week – from school and work lunches to re-heatable dinners.

Consider spending a Sunday afternoon preparing a double batch of two main courses, and you'll be ready for anything. Then refrigerate or freeze the extras in single-serving containers so there's always a nutritious, home-cooked meal on hand. All you need is:

  • Storage
    An array of glass (or other BPA-free) food storage containers in a variety of sizes that freeze and reheat safely.
  • Labeling
    Wax pencils work well for labeling glass and metal lids with the type of meal and the date it was cooked.

Have fun discovering what works for you and your family

The simpler it is to cook – and eat healthy – the more likely you are to do it! Invest a small amount of time and energy in the right systems and tools. Then refine them over time to best serve your family and lifestyle, and you'll create a lifetime of healthier, more satisfying eating.

Want more great tips on living well?

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