As I prepared lunch, starting with steamed green beans dressed in equal parts soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, it came home to me how putting meals together quickly depends on having ingredients on hand.
If the green beans are not there, you can’t cook them. But if you bought them over the weekend, then steamed them Sunday night, and there were leftovers, well, then you have the beginning of lunch.
It is not cooking that takes time (Sure, it can take as much time as you have to give it. It just doesn’t need to take all that long.), it is planning meals and shopping for them that requires some effort. The secret to efficient shopping is to develop dependable sources for your ingredients. You can make this fun, for instance, by exploring farmers’ markets. Take the family along; promise them a fresh baked roll and a hot chocolate as a lure. Shopping these markets has the added advantage of teaching you–in the most pleasurable way possible–just what is in season.