I get it; your schedule is busy. You work, you exercise, you run errands, you spend time with your family and friends. Taking the time to eat can be hard. Taking the time to eat well is even harder. Or is it? In fact, cooking and preparing healthy, whole foods can often be just as quick as ordering takeout or popping in a frozen pizza…without the dangerous ramifications. If you’ve always wanted to start cooking healthy food at home, check out this article to help you create delicious meals even on the busiest nights.
Plan out your meals at least one week ahead and do all of your grocery shopping at once. Though it is more of a time investment upfront, this will save you tons of minutes spent waiting in line at the grocery store when you just needed one thing for dinner. Create a list of healthy meals to cook for the week and stick to it.
Utilize the slow cooker
That crockpot that’s been sitting in your cupboard, untouched for six months? It’s time to break it out. Search out some easy, healthy crockpot recipes that can be tossed together in just a few minutes before you leave for work in the morning. You will come home to delicious, tender meat or vegetables with no extra work.
Don’t forget about the pressure cooker
Another product that is all the rage these days is the Instant Pot pressure cooker. This nifty gadget allows you to cook in 30 minutes what might take the slow cooker all day. It can prepare full meals and is incredibly versatile. You can even place your frozen meat directly into the hopper without having to worry about defrosting it first.
Make smoothie cups
If you don’t have time for a healthy dinner, you definitely don’t have time for breakfast, right? Instead of skipping this oh-so-important meal, create individual smoothie cups that you can keep in your fridge or freezer, and dump into the blender in the morning with some coconut or almond milk. Try combining greens with fruit, or toss in chia seeds, coconut, and a banana. The combinations are endless. Plus, once you create the perfect smoothie, you’ll know exactly how to prepare it for your morning on the go.
But precut veggies
Usually, it is a good idea to stay away from anything packaged or prepared, but this instance is a happy exception. Search the produce section for packages of fresh vegetables that are sliced and ready to go. You can add these to salads, or other recipes without having to spend tons of time chopping and dicing. Remember, always read the ingredients of any packed food to make sure that you know what you’re buying. The only ingredients should be the vegetables in the bag. If there are added colors or preservatives, it is best to stay away.
Keep it simple
Though cooking can be fun and experimenting with new foods and recipes is always a challenge, it’s just not practical to create an elaborate, multifaceted meal every single night. Focus on learning how to use spices and healthy sauces to add a new flavor to a tried and true dish. It’s amazing what a simple clove of garlic or slice of ginger can do.
When you are grocery shopping, if a meal plan or detailed grocery list just isn’t happening this week, focus on a few key elements, one or two sources of protein, a few bags of lettuce, a milk alternative such as almond or coconut, one or two healthy grains, beans, three veggies and three fruits. Keep a well-stocked spice cabinet, a few easy sauce recipes on hand, and you’ll have all the components for a delicious, last-minute dish.
Make extra and freeze
It is always easy to cook more all at once and save the leftovers. Double the recipe if you can and save half to create individual microwave-ready meals that make lunch a breeze. Simply grab one of your frozen meals from the fridge and bring it to work to avoid spending money and time on unhealthy restaurant options.
Remember, simplicity, planning, and taking charge of your diet shouldn’t be hard. You shouldn’t have to slave away for hours in the kitchen just to get dinner on the table. Eating healthy on a tight time budget isn’t impossible. Now go prep some veggies!
What are your tips for creating healthy, quick meals? Let us know in the comments below.