There are few things we feel like doing when we get home after a long day. Cooking an elaborate dinner or meal planning for the week wouldn’t likely make the cut. But, the truth is a few minutes of prep before you get into bed at night helps you to eat better all week.
The four hacks below are simple ways to maximize those sleepy hours.
If you have 30 minutes to watch your favorite show, you have 30 minutes to slice stale bread and turn it into croutons. Simply preheat the oven to 300°F (150ºC), carve day-old bread into roughly cut chunks and toss them in a generous coating of olive oil. (Think: 1 part oil to 4 parts bread.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake until crispy — about 20 minutes — allow them to cool while you head to bed and fall asleep. In the morning, you’ll have crunchy croutons perfect for topping soups, salads or pulverizing into breadcrumbs.
When to do it: While your favorite show is on.
Why do it: Use up that extra bread and add crunch to all of your meals for the rest of the week.
DIY NUT BUTTER
Store-bought nut butters aren’t any different than many other packaged foods; they have added stabilizers, flavors and ingredients your body doesn’t recognize as food. To avoid them, make your own nut butter at home. All you need is a few minutes to make it happen.
Simply add raw (or soaked and dehydrated nuts, if you’re in this good practice) to the bowl of a food processor or blender and flip the switch. You needn’t add any additional ingredients unless you want to add a bit of maple syrup or salt. You may have to stir once or twice to help the process along, but ultimately your food processor makes the nut butter while you take a cat nap, have a glass of wine or watch your favorite show. In 7–10 minutes, you’ll have delicious, creamy nut butter for spreading, slathering and eating by the spoonful.
When to do it: While you’re brushing your teeth or putting on that clay mask.
Why do it: There’s nothing more delicious or satisfying than homemade nut butter, plus it’s more nutritious, too. Your toast will thank you.
SOAK BEANS AND GRAINS
This one literally makes itself while you sleep. Beans, grains and legumes all contain the nutrients needed to produce a whole new plant. Along with that, they produce a natural biotoxin called phytic acid, which coats them in a chemical that makes them difficult to digest for predators. To get these foods to let their guards down, and keep us eating, enjoying and absorbing their powerful nutrients, all we need to do is soak them in water and a pinch of salt.
To do it yourself, simply toss the beans, grains or legumes into a glass jar and fill with water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, drain and cook to your liking. Stir the cooked beans and grains into bowls, salads, stews and spreads.
When to do it: 5 minutes before you head to bed.
Why do it: Soaked beans and grains have more available nutrition than their canned counterparts. Plus, once you cook them, you’ll have perfect ingredients for grain bowls, salads, tacos and other quick-and-easy meals.
MAKE OVERNIGHT OATS
If you haven’t locked down this easy-to-go breakfast, you’re missing out. Oats are a superfood and a power-packed breakfast, especially when stewed with chia seeds, flax, yogurt and hemp seeds. All the oats need is a little time to soak up liquids overnight. You’ll wake up a very well organized person, perfectly prepared to be well-fed all week. Simply jam the oats in a jar with your favorite ingredients, add water or milk and stir. (Or, try a few of our amped up recipes.)
When to do it: When you’re setting up coffee for the morning.
Why do it: Do yourself a favor and craft a grounding, great breakfast to enjoy when you wake up.