In our modern society, it feels as if we are always running around and pressed for time. Between work, family, and personal obligations, it is often hard to find the time to prepare nutritious, healthy meals to eat at home. The myriad of processed, easy to prepare food, and fast food restaurants offer a great allure to the busy individual trying to squeeze a meal into his/her hectic day. However, eating high sugar, high calorie processed foods devoid of nutrients and vitamins can have long lasting negative impacts on your health. With a little preparation and planning, you can feed your family healthy and delicious food, even after a stressful day.
First, you should come up with a meal plan for the week and make a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need at the grocery store. If you know in advance what you are making for dinner, you will not have the added stress of figuring it out last minute and not having what you need on hand. Always keep healthy stock items in your pantry and freezer, such as canned tomatoes, brown rice, quinoa, beans, low-sodium stock, olive oil, garlic, onions, frozen fruit and frozen vegetables. Prepare simpler meals on busier nights when there is less time for preparation. If you are not a cooking connoisseur, there are thousands of “quick healthy meals” to choose from on the Internet.
Second, cooking becomes a lot easier if you prep your ingredients in advance. You will save a lot of time if you can wash and dice certain foods as soon as you get home from the grocery store so they are ready to use at a moment’s notice. You can also buy pre-cut vegetables in the store. Just remember to save more delicate vegetables that may spoil until right before cooking. Make sure to keep gadgets, like food processors, and garlic presses, readily available to make chopping and dicing easier.
Making meals in advance and freezing them is another great way to save time. Any kind of stew or casserole can be made in advance and heated up at a later time. You can make extra portions of chicken (like a whole roast chicken) to use in more than one recipe during the week! Prepare a large salad at the beginning of the week and use it for a few meals (don’t add dressing or it will get soggy – store it dry!) Lastly, utilize slow cookers, rice cookers and vegetables steamers so your food cooks throughout the day and is ready to eat when you get home.
Eating nutritious meals at home does not have to be difficult or stressful. Taking just 20 minutes per week to plan out your meals will not only save you time and money, but will lead to better overall health for you and your family.