4 Easy Ways to Eat Healthy Without Spending All Day Cooking
Advice to help you fit good nutrition into a busy schedule
Nutrition is a vital part of every person’s life, and even more so for those in addiction recovery. But people who have suffered with addiction disorder don’t always eat the way they should. In fact, their diet is often made up of cheap convenience foods or fast foods. By the time they enter recovery, many women are already suffering the effects of poor nutrition. At Brentwood House, a balanced diet full of delicious, colorful foods is a crucial part of our comprehensive treatment plan. Maintaining a healthy diet for the rest of your life helps support recovery and overall health, but it’s not always easy.
There’s a learning curve to eating healthy. While most health-conscious recipes really don’t take any longer than the foods we’re used to eating, it does take a little extra effort to learn new recipes and techniques. Once those new habits are mastered, you may be surprised at how little time it takes to create delicious, healthy meals and snacks for you and your family. But in the meantime, here are a few tips to help you reduce your time in the kitchen.
- Double Up – Cook once and eat twice is a great philosophy for healthy eating. When making freezable foods like broth-based soups, casseroles, or grilled meats, double the recipe and put half in the freezer. On busy weeknights or lazy weekends when you don’t feel like cooking, viola—reach in the freezer and grab a meal. The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides a comprehensive list of foods that can be frozen and the best ways to handle them. To make doubling up even easier, invest in a supply of high-grade freezer bags and freezer-to-oven baking dishes. Always remember to label your frozen creations with the date and contents.
- Clean as You Go – Cleaning up is the worst part of cooking for most people. There’s no doubt that healthy, homemade meals create more dirty dishes than take-out or meals from a box, but there’s also no doubt that good food is worth the trouble. However, you can cut down on the time it takes to clean the kitchen if you keep things tidy as you go. For example, set out a large bowl to hold meat and vegetable scraps and small bits of trash as you’re preparing food. Dump the full bowl in the trash instead of making single trips to the trash can. If you’re waiting for a pot of water to boil or the oven to pre-heat, wash the cutting board, knives and mixing bowls you used during meal prep while you wait. And be sure to wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Small accidents can become time-consuming messes once they dry or burn onto cooking vessels Also, for quick easy clean up, get crusty, greasy pots and pans soaking before you sit down to eat.
- Stay Organized – A little meal planning can go a long way when it comes to saving time. Planning out a week’s worth of meals, including lunch and breakfast, can reduce your preparation time by half. For example, if you’re going to bake chicken breasts for dinner one night, cook an extra piece or two and use the leftovers to make chicken salad the following evening. Making guacamole for taco Tuesday? Plan on having a guac and tomato sandwich for lunch on Wednesday. Thinking ahead will not only save time, but it will also save money because leftovers will never go to waste.
- Cook Day – Set aside a day every week or two to prep a series of meals. Do all the chopping, measuring and mixing, some of the cooking and all of the cleaning needed to keep you eating healthy for several meals at a time. It may seem like a big task to spend a chunk of your day in the kitchen, but that effort will free you up the rest of the week. Imagine coming home after a long day and having everything you need for a delicious stir-fry all ready to go into the wok, no muss or fuss. Don’t limit the effort to just dinners either. Scramble up 4 eggs, a cup of chopped spinach and a handful of cherry tomatoes, divide equally into two microwave safe containers, and you’ve got hot breakfast ready to go on not just one, but two busy mornings.