Many of us have goals around the food we eat, and it can seem overwhelming at times. The planning, time, effort and costs sometime feel like too much. Thankfully we can hack our way to meeting these goals while making the most of our ingredients, time and grocery budgets. With some simple, low effort strategies, these goals will feel simple and delicious.

No More Humdrum Hydration

Trying to drink more water but struggling with flavorless fluids?

Hack: Save the scraps.

Saving vegetable scraps for stock is a tried-and-true food hack, but what about fruit. Have your fruit scraps make a quick pit stop before they join the compost. Toss strawberry tops into some cold water for a refreshing infused water that makes your hydration goals more fun. Make it more interesting with a sprig of basil or mint and use your fancy glasses.

Take mocktail hour up a notch with your fruit scraps. The tough core of a pineapple is full of flavor. Add it to a pitcher of unsweetened iced tea and drop in a few pieces of candied ginger. Let the iced tea infuse with tropical flavor for a bit in the fridge and enjoy.

You can keep it simple by just adding a piece of juiced citrus fruit to your drink, or get creative with different fruits, herbs and even vegetables like cucumber peels and jalapenos for the more adventurous. Feeling slightly more ambitious, flavor your seltzer with a homemade shrub using the pieces of fruit you trimmed away for your fruit salad.

Stop The Salad Rut

Trying to enjoy more packed lunches from home but feel like you’re eating the same salad every day?

Hack: Shake up your dressing – literally

Instead of immediately rinsing and recycling empty mustard jars, mix in a little oil, vinegar and seasoning, give the jar a good shake and you have a homemade dressing. Don’t stop with the mustard, the fridge is probably full of nearly empty jars. Use up the last of your fruit preserves with this Grains and Greens Salad. Make this Thai Carrot Salad to use the last of your peanut butter. Take that extra pesto from pasta night and make this Quinoa Pesto Salad. An Overnight Kale Salad is the perfect make ahead lunch that will also use up the last of that tahini jar.

Done With Dinner Delays

Trying to limit takeout and enjoy more home cooked meals, but struggle to get dinner on the table at reasonable time?

Specifically, ever notice how recipes always claim it will take 10 minutes to caramelize an onion but in reality, it’s more like 45 minutes or an hour? Now that 30-minute recipe is going to take well over an hour.

Hack: Start earlier, much earlier but with less effort

Slice up plenty of onions using the slicing blade on a food processor, a mandolin or some careful knife skills, then cook the onions in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. You can go about the rest of your day while the onions get perfectly browned and sweet. When it’s time to cook, that first step is already done. With the onions ready to go, you may even be able to shave 10 minutes off the original cook time.

Since you prepped plenty of extra onions you will have leftovers. Fill a freezer bag with the onions. Spread them out to create an even layer when you lay the bag out flat and freeze on a cookie sheet. Don’t make the bag too thick, because instead of portioning out onions to freeze, you will simply break off pieces to cook in future meals.

Save Some Green(s)

Trying to eat more vegetables but after trimming these vegetables, the pile of stalks, stems and skins, is bigger than the portion of vegetables you actually eat?

Hack: This hack is the easiest of all. Eat them.

Broccoli stalks are just as good as the florets, they just take a little longer to cook. Simply trim off the rough bits, cut as desired and get them cooking a few minutes before the florets. You can also peel the stalks and shred them for a tasty slaw.

Don’t throw away the stems when making a kale salad for tomorrow’s lunch. Chop up the kale stems to add to your morning smoothie. Try this with beet greens, as well, for a vibrant pink treat.

As for the skins, you’d be surprised how many plants have skins that are not only edible, but packed with fiber and vitamins, so save yourself a step and leave the peels and skin intact. But if you must peel your cucumbers, scroll back up to try the first hack in this list.

Finding simple hacks can save time, effort and food waste, while making our nutrition goals a little easier to reach. Household hacks can also make these daily tasks feel more interesting. This shift in perspective can take meal prep from being a mundane chore to an exciting challenge. Have fun with these hacks and make them your own.

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