Although meals are often healthier when prepared at home, it’s not always possible to put together a full home cooked dish every night of the week. After a long day at work, it may seem daunting to even think about turning on the stove, or worse, cleaning up the aftermath. This doesn’t mean you have to order Chinese take-out every night and ditch your healthy eating habits. Whether you are naturally inclined to cook or have never set foot in a kitchen, eating healthy is doable for anyone. Here are some tips for eating healthy at home when you just don’t feel like cooking.
01 Keep easy to prepare items on hand to mix and match.
Keeping your fridge and pantry stocked with easy, natural ingredients like eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit/veggies, oatmeal, whole wheat bread/rice/pasta, and sweet potatoes (to name a few) are great to have when you don’t want to cook. Some of the best recipes are the simplest and come together in minutes. Next time you’re in a rush, try some of these delicious recipes for breakfast or lunch: Avocado toast, Fruit & Yogurt Parfait, Loaded Sweet Potato.
02 Drink smoothies for added vegetable and fruit intake.
This is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting at least two cups of fruits and veggies per day. Smoothies are a great meal to make in the morning or an afternoon snack after your workout. Keep the portions in check and always add a vegetable like spinach, kale, or carrots for added fiber to balance out the carbs from the fruit! Check out these super Super Healthy Smoothie recipes the next time you’re looking for something sweet.
03 Stock up on canned soups.
Canned soups are a cheap and simple way to have a delicious, flavorful, savory meal in no time. Opt for broth-based soups instead of cream based and added veggies are always a plus! (Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup is a great one). Always choose low or lite sodium and make sure there’s no added sugar. Pair the soup with a side salad or sandwich for a full meal.
04 Become friends with the frozen section.
Frozen foods are not only cost-effective, but they can provide an easy meal in seconds. Breakfast foods like frozen whole grain waffles or pancakes are delicious with a dollop of raw peanut butter on the go. Frozen fruit and veggies are perfect to keep on hand for an easy side dish or smoothie. Individual meals from HealthyChoice, Lean Cuisine, Amy’s, SmartOnes, Kashi, and EVOL are also perfect for nights you just want to use a microwave. In general, aim for a frozen meal below 500 calories, at least 10g of protein, and less than 800mg of sodium.
05 Always ask for a to-go box.
When eating out at restaurants, ask for a to-go box before the food even comes out. Restaurants often serve larger portions than we actually need, so packing up half of your meal before you start eating will help you with portion control and ensure you have a great meal for the next day.
06 Invest in a crockpot or instant pot.
One-pot meals require minimal effort since all you have to do is place your ingredients in the crockpot/instant pot and hours later you have a full meal that may even be able to last all week. Here is a list of simple Crock-Pot recipes.
This is a term used by the French and culinary professionals that literally means “put in place”. In restaurants, chefs prep all of the ingredients they are going to need in advance so that when they actually start cooking, meals come together seamlessly and efficiently. This concept is deceptively simple and saves a ton of time and frustration when you are trying to get dinner on the table. Maybe you go ahead chop up all of your fresh veggies at the beginning of the week, or batch cook your grains and protein and store for later. Check out some ways Food Network’s Pioneer Woman uses mise-en-place for easy meal prep.