1. Don’t keep junk food in the house.
This is basic, but it took me years to realize. Personally, if I have a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream in the house, there ain’t no tellin’ what may happen to it. I may be able to practice portion control, or I may eat it all—on sight. For this reason, I simply can’t have these things in my home on a daily basis. It’s much easier to eat healthier if you only have healthy foods to choose from.
2. Make some easy, healthy snacks for the week.
The biggest misconception about packing snacks is that it’s hard to do. One thing that works for me is prepping healthy snacks for the entire week, or getting them together the night before. It literally takes five minutes and will help you eat healthier throughout the day. Here are five healthy snacks that take no time:
- Chopped apple and almond butter
- Greek yogurt fruit parfait with granola
- Popcorn (air popped at home; spritz with olive oil mister and herbs)
- Almonds (add a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips, if you’re into that)
- Broccoli and hummus
3. Save time by buying things pre-chopped.
Of course we’d all love to be Martha Stewart—plant all of our food, pick it from the garden, chop it up, and cook it fresh. The problem is that may not be realistic for all of us. And that’s okay. Just by pre-chopped products to save time.
4. Don’t skip breakfast.
Did you know that the origin of the word breakfast is break fast? This is because you haven’t been eating throughout the night (fasting) and you need to break that fast upon awakening (breakfast). Please don’t skip breakfast.
Your body needs to eat. Plus, eating early revs up your metabolism, which is a good thing. Need some ideas? Try: Fruit with plain Greek yogurt; a slice of whole grain toast with a tablespoon of almond butter and a sliced banana on top; or overnight oats.
5. Plan ahead and prep in batches.
I can picture it now: you get home from work, and after an exhausting day, you’re way too tired to cook an elaborate dinner. This is me every day. The solution here is to batch prep. Batch prep means deciding on two to four dishes you will have for the week (this can work for lunch, too) and cooking them on a weekend day (or a day you have off from work).
6. Use the freezer.
When it comes to saving time, frozen foods are your best friend. When I say frozen foods, I don’t mean TV dinners, which are loaded with sodium and other additives. I mean whole foods that were frozen at their peak of freshness. Examples of things you can buy frozen are: vegetables (like broccoli or peppers), and fruit (like blueberries, raspberries, and mango.) When I’m in a rush, I’ll heat up some frozen quinoa, stir in a half cup of low-sodium canned black beans and top with a few slices of tomato and avocado. You can also freeze some of your batch-cooked foods.
7. Enjoy some one-pot wonders.
If your reservation about healthy cooking is that you don’t have time to get more than one dish dirty, you might want to consider the one-pot wonders. These are dishes where the only step is throwing everything thing in a pot and watching it go. I loved this podcast from The Nutrition Diva on why a crockpot is often overlooked as a healthy cooking method that saves time.
8. Just keep it simple.
Spending hours preparing a complicated recipe every night is for the birds. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) My motto is: only sign up to cook recipes that are basic with minimal ingredients. I find that when I try to get too fancy, I end up getting frustrated, defeated, and going to Chipotle to cheer me up. If you want to keep it simple, only commit to one or two new recipes per week that have five to 10 ingredients you can pronounce (and find at your local supermarket)