Sometimes getting a healthy meal on the table takes more time than we have. Try these 10 time-saving tips to cook healthier meals at home. You’ll be saving time, money, and eating healthier in no time.
We all know that healthy eating is important, but knowing it and putting it into practice are, for many people, are two different things. The main reason, I’ve found, why people don’t always eat as healthily as they could is because they feel, rightly or wrongly that they don’t have enough time to prepare and cook healthy meals every day.
This is totally understandable, I mean we all live increasingly busy nights and cooking a healthy meal does take more effort than calling the pizza place or throwing a Lean Cuisine in the over, but you know what? Cooking healthy meals doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you think.
Here are simple 10 tips to make cooking healthy meals easier:
1. Plan Your Meals
The best thing you can do if you want to incorporate healthier cooking into your life is to set 15 minutes aside once a week to come up with a meal plan. Write down everything you plant to cook for the whole week and what ingredients you’ll need to do this. That way, you can pick up everything you need in a single trip to the store, and because you have a plan in place, you’re less likely to be tempted by the less healthy stuff.
2. Invest in a High-Speed Blender
If you don’t already have one, it’s worth considering purchasing a high-quality, high-speed blender like the Vitamix 7500 model. It’s perfect for creating healthy smoothies in seconds, so you can always squeeze in a healthy breakfast if nothing else. It’s also pretty good for preparing soups in a hurry because, instead of taking the time to chop all the veg, you can just blend it up, add it to the pot and voila, you’ve got a nutritious hot meal in a matter of minutes.
3. Chop Vegetables in Advance
Chopping your vegetables in advance is another good way to save time and ensure that you get a healthy meal on the table each night. Most vegetables can be peeled and chopped the night before or in the morning and then cooked up in the evenings. You just need to ensure that you store them in airtight containers and cover them with water (diced potatoes, for example) if necessary. Pasta Primavera is one recipe that is perfect for this since it requires several vegetables to be chopped or sliced prior to cooking.
4. Use a Crockpot
Wouldn’t it be nice to come home to a hot meal waiting for you every night? Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. If you invest in a crockpot, you’ll be able to prep your dinner in the morning, leave it cooking in the pot while you go to work and come home to a delicious meal like this Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken. Meals cooked in the crockpot, such this Beef and Broccoli could give new meaning to ordering take-out IN. It could really transform your life.
5. Invest in a Set of Chef’s Knives
Chopping, peeling and skinning food doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to take a long time, in fact, it should be pretty fast. The problem is, many of us just do not own any knives that are sharp enough for the job. Luckily, this can be easily remedied by investing in a good set of chef-quality knives and making an effort to sharpen them up every few months when they become more difficult to use.
6. Cut Meats into Bite-Size Pieces
If you’re a meat lover, but you hate waiting around for your favorite food to cook, try cutting it into pieces and placing it on skewers. It’ll take much less time to cook, and it’ll taste just as fantastic as a whole fillet, just make sure that you dip the skewers in water before you put them on the grill or in the oven, or you could have a fire on your hands. Even if you don’t have or use skewers you can create quick meals using the same technique of cutting meats such as chicken into smaller pieces. This healthy One Skillet Chicken and Broccoli dish hits our table at weekly just because it comes together in less than 30 minutes, including prep time.
7. Cook in Batches
If you have some free time over the weekend, what better way could there be to use some of that time than by preparing nutritious, healthy meals that you can freeze and reheat during the week? There are so many healthy foods, think soups, stews and curries, that can be cooked in huge batches and safely stored in the fridge or freezer until you need them. It’s like always having healthy TV dinners ready to go. I love to make a huge crockpot-full of Minestrone Soup and then freeze it in individual serving-size containers.
For breakfasts on the go consider making healthy muffins in batches and freezing them. It takes only a couple of minutes to thaw out or a few seconds in the microwave to heat them up. Here are 3 recipes that freeze well:
8. Invest in a Dishwasher
If you don’t already have a dishwasher and it’s in your budget, why not treat yourself to one now. Often, it’s the clean-up that comes with cooking that puts us off making healthy meals at all, so if you’ve got a good dishwasher to take care of the mess, you’re may be more likely to keep up with new healthy cooking habits for you and the family.
If you feel that a dishwasher isn’t in your budget or needed, here are two tips to help combat the mess that may accumulate while prepping and cooking food.
9. Clean as You Go
Never fails, nothing turns me off of cooking more than to see the counter-tops and sink FULL of dirty dishes. I hate washing dishes more than I hate dusting. I’ve learned to wash dishes as I go or if I can’t, I will soak them so they’re easier to wash later. Washing the dishes as you go may slow you down just a bit but you will be less stresses and annoyed with the mess later.
10. Use a “Garbage” Bowl
This is my favorite tip! Simply, use a “garbage” bowl on the counter-top for peelings, ends of vegetables and food wrappers. When it’s full just dump the trash into your kitchen trash can. Not only have you saved trips to the trash can but you have kept the “mess” contained. I first saw this tip on a Rachael Ray cooking show and while she does have her brand of cookware (including a garbage bowl), you definitely do not need a special bowl for your scraps of food. In fact, I use this plastic snowman bowl for my “garbage” bowl. It most certainly isn’t fancy – haha! See, I told you didn’t need an expensive bowl for this. It works and that is all that matters.
What are your tips to make cooking healthy meals easier? Share with us in the comments!