Cooking your own food is the best way to gain better control of nutrition, but finding the time is challenging. Incorporate these five tips to squeeze in quick and healthy cooking despite a busy schedule.
Stick with one-pot meals.
Forget filling the table with a main and multiple side dishes. Combine your vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats into a one-pot meal. Stir up a pot of vegetarian chili, cook a skillet full of healthy fried rice , or make an easy fajita bowl. One-pot meals make both cooking and clean-up easier, which translates to less time spent in the kitchen.
Dust off the slow cooker.
The slow cooker works miracles when it comes to putting healthy meals on the table. Waking up a few minutes early to toss together ingredients is well worth it when you come home to a meal that is ready and waiting. From soups and stews to pasta sauces and whole chickens, you can enjoy a different meal every night of the week.
Try more make-ahead meals.
Cook up large portions of beans, meats, and sauces that can be used in meals throughout the week. For example, a whole chicken can be made in the slow cooker on Sunday and eaten with a side of steamed vegetables and a baked potato for dinner. Shred the leftovers to use as a salad topping, in a wrap, or in tortilla soup. Cook up a large pot of beans and eat them over brown rice for one meal and then as a burrito filling for another. Reheat any leftover beans with cooked chopped vegetables for a filling vegetable soup.
Stir-fry, saute, and broil.
Stick with only quick cooking methods, and save baking and roasting for when you have more time to spend in the kitchen. Stir-frying shrimp or chicken, sauteing vegetables, and broiling fish mean you can have a healthy meal ready in minutes.
Organize ingredients by day.
At the beginning of the week, decide what meals you plan to cook each day. Take those ingredients and organize them together in your refrigerator and pantry. Use labels to identify the meal by the day of the week. Having ingredients gathered will save you time and help you start cooking the second you step into the kitchen.