Easy Meals on the Run: Kitchen Gadgets for Fast Meals
Most runner’s know short cuts and time savers are a necessary means to ensure they not only get their run in but so the rest of their day runs smoothly. Today, we have all kinds of convenience food options at our beck and call. No longer is McDonald’s drive thru the only “easy” and fast option. In fact, these days we can all eat very healthfully and quite quickly without having someone in the kitchen slaving over lengthy meal prep. What do you need to make it through your kitchen in a flash with a healthy meal on the other side?
If you leave the house at zero dark thirty in the morning and want to come home to an amazing, homemade meal, than buy yourself a slow cooker. It’s as easy as throwing things in and turning it on. You can have any number of healthy and hearty soups and stews. Have a family that always wants a hearty meat? You can cook ribs or pork tenderloin while you’re out living your life. Want a night of baked potatoes and a salad but don’t have time to wait for the oven to cook them? Pop them in the slow cooker. Added bonus, the crockpot is so user friendly even the non-cook in the family can follow the recipes and turn it on. Kids can also help. Feeling a little guilty that your Sunday morning run makes the kiddos have cereal instead of a memorable brunch-like breakfast? There are a ton of breakfast recipes that can be ready in a short amount of time that tweens and teens will inhale. Just be sure to leave a note if you’d like them to leave you some as post-run fuel.
The immersion blender, or as some call it the stick blender, is a version of the most useful kitchen gadgets turned inside out. Health conscious individuals usually make their own soups and dressings to assist in monitoring added salt and sugar. Prior to the immersion blender, making salad dressing was a taxing chore, requiring larger amounts of dressing to have to be made and an entire blender to be cleaned. With an immersion blender dump all the ingredients in the blending pitcher that comes with your blender and blend for less than a minute. Your only clean-up is the small stick portion of the blender and you can put a lid on the pitcher to store your dressing for up to a week. If you are making a soup, stick the blender in the container you are cooking in. If you want a smoothie, stick the blender in the vessel you want to carry the smoothie in. And there you have it. Quick, velvety perfection.
No, not the mandolin that makes the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sound magical. A food mandoline is a blade on a flat plane with a special holder that grips the food you are seeking to slice chopped, grated, shredded, zested or julienned into a variety of thick or thin cuts. (Be sure to use the special holder so that your fingers don’t get sliced!) A mandoline can also crinkle or waffle cut.
The longest portion of prep for any meal, snack or smoothie is the cutting up of fruits or vegetables included in the recipe. The mandoline makes perfectly even and equal slices with just the back and forth of your hand. Unless you’ve got knife skills like an Iron Chef, it helps cut down on prep time as well as make sure everything is uniform. Mandoline’s can make snacks like cheese and charcuttiere plates and meal prep fast and fun. Clean up is quick since some are dishwasher safe. A trusty mandonline can be found nearly everywhere and for any budget.
With the multiple attachments that come with most stand mixers from paddles, whisks, and dough hooks, the hard work is done by the machine. Need to make dough? Toss in the ingredients and the let the dough hook do all the work. Simply cover it and let it rise right there. No kneading, manipulating or wearing your arm out. You can make pizza dough for dinner or biscuit dough for fresh breakfast biscuits.
Looking to treat yourself and your family? Toss some powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream in your mixer with paddle attachment for a sweet whipped topping for hot chocolate , breakfast (frozen waffles will be a big hit with the kids) or you can have it as a dip for fruits or cookies. It may not be the healthiest but it sure beats the stuff out of a can. The paddle attachment can help with you anything from taco night to chicken salad sandwiches since it shreds chicken.
Nothing seems more old fashioned and is more underrated than the electric kettle. Fill that puppy up go on about your business and in two minutes or less you have boiling water. It makes breakfast, lunch and an afternoon warm cup of goodness with barely any effort. Think oatmeal, Ramen, tea, soup, instant coffee, hot chocolate and if you are really in a pinch, you can even hard boil an egg or two.
In a world of immediate results and mostly unhealthy convenience food at your fingertips, it’s nice having a few truly useful kitchen gadgets at your disposal that can make for relatively quick, homemade meals. You’ll save money, calories and time, all of which can be used for what’s really important: running gear and mileage.