Did you watch Kurt shed 87 pounds and 22% of his body fat in just 14 weeks on My Diet is Better than Yours?
Here’s one of the biggest secrets to Kurt’s success….
Kurt taught himself how to cook. He knows his way around the kitchen. When he prepares meals for his family, he gets flavors from fresh, simple ingredients.
I admit, at first glance, a real food meal doesn’t seem as convenient as processed food. You can’t mindlessly crack open a box and pour noodles and some godawful flavoring mix into a saucepan.
If you want food freedom, you need to learn how to cook. So to help you get started, here are a few favorite kitchen hacks to help you save time, prevent food from spoiling, and amp up the nutritional value of your meals.
REAL FOOD HACK #1: Put paper towels in your plastic crate of greens.
If you bought that jumbo container of organic baby spinach from Costco, you don’t want it to get slimy and spoil. The paper towel helps absorb moisture to keep your greens fresh for days.
Here’s a time-saver if you’re cutting greens: Wash and cut one or two heads of lettuce, kale, or other greens. Shake them well to remove as much water as possible. Lay the paper towel in the bottom of a storage container. Add the cut greens and close the lid.
Alternately, wrap the washed greens in paper towel and store in a zip-top bag. Now it’s ready when you need it!
REAL FOOD HACK #2: Slice and dice your veggies as soon as you buy them.
When you come home from the store or farmer’s market with a bounty of fresh veggies, cut them up then and there. When you store pre-cut veggies in clear containers, they are easy to find, take up less space in the fridge, and make meal prep and healthy snacking quick and easy.
REAL FOOD HACK #3: Submerge celery and carrot sticks in a container filled with water.
Vegetables are alive! Roots and other veggies stay crisp and ready to eat for about two weeks! This also works for cubed or sliced tubers like turnips, beets, sweet potatoes, and rutabaga as well as fresh rhubarb.
REAL FOOD HACK #4: Boil your sweet potatoes.
If you’re looking to burn fat, but you need a healthy-carb refeed after your workout or to help you sleep, try some boiled sweet potato. When you boil a sweet potato with the skin on, you reduce its glycemic index (GI) by half (versus high temperature cooking like baking or frying)!
The GI of an average sized sweet potato boiled for 30 minutes is 42, but if you bake that same potato for 45 minutes, the GI is 94. So, that boiled sweet potato will release energy much slower, helping to fuel you longer and reduce the risk of a sugar-spike and crash. Remember, when it comes to starches (and meats), cook them low and slow.
REAL FOOD HACK #5: Double your recipes, do a “big cook,” and save time by eating leftovers as a meal.
Or, freeze half and eat it next week. If you’re making meatloaf, a roast, chicken legs, or just about anything, doubling the recipe means a few more minutes of work now… but a meal ready-to-rock when you need it.
REAL FOOD HACK #6: Save time on cleanup by cutting your veggies first, then your meat.
Cutting veggies first means you don’t have to scrub the cutting board in between. (If you’re new to cooking, make sure you never cut veggies on a cutting board that has raw meat residue.)
REAL FOOD HACK #7: Line your pans.
When you’re baking, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper to make cleanup a snap. When you’re roasting something like chicken legs, meatballs, or vegetables, line the pan with foil. This will save you valuable scrub-time when dinner is over!
REAL FOOD HACK #8: Bake your bacon.
Make a whole pound (or package) of perfect bacon at once, then store extra slices in a container in the fridge. Just line a rimmed baking pan with foil, top with a wire bakery rack, then lay your slices in a single layer on top. Bake at 375℉ for about 15 minutes, or until done (varies by thickness of bacon).
REAL FOOD HACK #9: Cut the amount of sugar in your store-bought kombucha by fermenting it at home.
I learned this little trick from my friend Tucker Max. Crack the lid and leave the bottle on the counter at room temperature for a couple days. The good belly bugs in kombucha will feast on the residual sugars, leaving you with a lower-carb beverage packed with gut-building probiotics.
REAL FOOD HACK #10: Slice your meat when it’s slightly frozen.
If you’re making a stir-fry, throw the chicken in the freezer for 15 minutes before slicing. The knife slides through much easier for a perfect, even cut!
REAL FOOD HACK #11: Spiralize your zucchini.
Vegetable pasta is actually quicker and easier to make than real pasta. All you need is a spiralizer, julienne peeler, or simple vegetable peeler and you can turn zucchini or yellow squash into “noodles” in seconds. Once they’re cut, serve raw or toss in a little oil and saute for a couple minutes before topping with your favorite sauce, meatballs, or even salmon.
REAL FOOD HACK #12: Preparing a meal for later? Wrap it up.
We love collard greens, but you could also use a nice big lettuce leaf as a wrap. Lay your green flat out on a plate and fill with all your leftovers—taco meat, cut up burger, pot roast, fish, roasted chicken, cut veggies, cooked veggies, guacamole, eggs, hot sauce. The combinations are endless. Wrap tight and it’s ready to eat or pack in your lunch. This is a great way to use up leftovers and make sure you’re eating healthy at work or school.
REAL FOOD HACK #13: Make your own nut butters at home.
It’s really easy. Just throw as many raw nuts or seeds as you want into the food processor (or a great blender) with a pinch of salt and process until smooth. You can have fresh cashew butter, sunflower butter, macadamia nut butter or almond butter in less time than it takes the get that foil thing off the top of the store-bought jars. Keep a bit of your nut butter on hand for dipping cut celery when you want a little protein kick.
Note: Nuts and seeds are typically high in Omega 6 fatty acids and can be easy to overeat, so they’re best enjoyed in moderation.
REAL FOOD HACK #14: Use your hand frother to make a single serving of salad dressing!
Did you buy a frother to make your fatty coffee? It comes in handy to whip up a little dressing—just put a little extra virgin olive oil and vinegar with a dash of salt, pepper, and dried herbs into a mug and use your frother to whip them together.
REAL FOOD HACK #15: Use your slow-cooker as much as possible.
Low-and-slow is the healthiest way to cook meat. When you know you’re going to have a busy day, throw a roast, ribs, pork, or a whole chicken into the slow-cooker with a few seasonings and dinner will be ready when you get home.
When you’re done with dinner, throw the bones or whole chicken carcass back in the slow cooker, cover with water and a splash of vinegar and let it simmer itself into a delicious broth. We always have a batch of bone broth bubbling on the counter. It’s a powerful weight management tool. It also helps keep your skin soft and elastic, lubricates your joints, and provides your bones with the right nutrients to stay strong.
20 real food hacks for a happy, healthy budget-friendly kitchen. TWEET @fatburnman
REAL FOOD HACK #16: Make leftover smoothies into smoothie-pops!
You know when you make a blender full of delicious green smoothie and it’s just a bit too much to fit in your glass? Pour the leftovers into a popsicle mold to create a simple, delicious treat for big and little kids alike!
REAL FOOD HACK #17: Freeze nearly too-ripe berries and veggies.
If you think you won’t use them before they go bad, freeze your those fruits and veggies to use in smoothies or stir-fries later on. Fruits and veggies that freeze well are: bell peppers, onion, kale, spinach, broccoli (parboil first), all berries, banana (slice first), squash (peel and cube), asparagus (parboil), Brussels sprouts (parboil).
REAL FOOD HACK #18: Buy fresh herbs when in season and freeze in ice cube trays.
Fresh herbs are so much cheaper when they’re in season. Or totally free if they’re straight from your garden. If you have a glut of fresh herbs, simply mince into small pieces and add a bit of water. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Once frozen, dump the herb cubes into marked freezer bags and keep in the freezer until ready to use. Now you can drop them by the cube into recipes, or thaw out to get accurate measurements. This works great for basil, oregano, mint, lemongrass, chives, thyme, rosemary, and more!
REAL FOOD HACK #19: Make refrigerator pickles.
This is arguably the easiest recipe on Earth. Once you get done eating all the pickles from the jar, add a sliced cucumber to the brine, and put it back in the refrigerator. You’ll have tangy, crisp pickles in just a few days.
REAL FOOD HACK #20: Make your green smoothie ahead of time.
Store your green smoothies in jars with lids in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready, just shake and drink up. Great for getting ready for a road trip.
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WANT TO SAVE TIME AND MONEY IN THE KITCHEN?
These 20 kitchen hacks should get you started, but if you really want to learn how to save hundreds of dollars on your real food budget, come check out our Wild Diet Shopping Guide.
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- The surprising reason you can actually SAVE money by choosing pastured, grass fed and organic meats.
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Do you have some tried-and-true real food kitchen hacks? Share them with us by leaving a comment below.