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Preparing Nutritious Meals with Little Time
One of the most common obstacles is preparing healthy meals - and finding the time to do so. Many of us don't have the time to fuss over recipes in the kitchen. After a long work day many people are starving and don't want to spend the extra time chopping vegetables, cooking rice, etc - and thus reach for unhealthy fast food. It's completely understandable.
However I can give you tips on how to make better use of your time so you can food prepared in less time / optimizing your kitchen time, so it is there ready for you.
Tips For Preparing Meals / Snacks When You Lack Time
#1. Optimize Your Boredom
Even when you are really busy most of the time there will always be gaps in your schedule wherein you are bored and waiting for something else to happen. eg. The movie doesn't start for another 20 minutes, so why not chop veggies while you wait and then stick then in the fridge to stay cool.
#2. Rewatching Old TV Shows
Are you the type of person who loves rewatching your favourite TV shows and movies? Chances are you've already seen the show a dozen times and can recite the script - which means you can do other activities while watching it. (Note: You might just as easily use this time for exercising instead of healthy food preparation, both are good for.)
Do you make time in your schedule for reading? Try an audiobook instead so you can listen to the audiobook while you have fun in the kitchen making healthy food.
Secondly, try reading some healthy recipe books for fun instead of the usual books you read for fun. They will give you more ideas for things you can make in the kitchen which take less time - or foods that can be made in advance and stored, making it easier to just warm it up later.
#4. Canned Soups and Stews
If you are going to make any kind of "fast food" at all I recommend healthy soups and stews. Open the can, pour in contents, add some extra chopped veggies (or peas, beans, pre-cut carrots), heat, stir continuously, cool and consume. Yummy and healthy!
#5. Peas and Beans
Seriously. They require no cutting. Just rinse with water and boil.
#6. The Sunday Night Action Plan
What do you do on your Sunday nights anyway??? Instead of relaxing and dreading Monday take ten minutes or so and create a work week meal plan. Aim to make something for dinner each night that will make good leftovers for lunch or even the following day's supper. You can even plan part of this in your head while driving or on the subway.
#7. Off from Work Early
If you get off from work early take that extra time to make a healthier meal. Plan for more time spent on a meal when you get off work early, and a really quick dinner when you get home late (soup and stew is great when you get home late).
#8. Make Food in Advance
Breakfast foods like Swiss Muesli can be prepared in advance and then stored. Certain kinds of soups can also be made in advance and stored (eg. Lentil soup).
It's so simple but if you have a teenager at home before you, ask them to chop vegetables. If they are too lazy to chop peppers then there is something wrong with them. You can also ask them to pick up healthy items at the grocery store, create the meal themselves (make a rule "You can make whatever you want as long as its healthy."
Nobody cares if the peppers look like they were cut by a blind woodcutter. Praise your teenager for a job well done.
#10. Use Frozen Vegetables
Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh - especially if they are flash frozen. The freezing process does remove a bit of the taste, but all the nutrition is still there. If you're not entertaining then its no big deal to use frozen instead. Canned beans, legumes and chickpeas are also handy.
#11. Invest in Appliances
Handy things to have: A rice cooker, food processor, vegetable chopper, hand blender, pressure cooker, and crock pot. Or even just a big old stew pot - good for making one big soup which lasts multiple days.
#12. Combine Your Exercise and Cooking Time
One of the things I like to do - and you may find this silly - is that I will boil something in the kitchen and then do a series of weightlifting exercises while I wait. This saves me time overall and helps build my appetite.
If you get home and are feeling starved drink a glass of milk first (or juice). It will fill up your belly part way so you don't feel as hungry. Then make a small or medium sized meal.
If you get home and are starving chances are more likely you will want to make a BIG meal - and making a big meal takes more time. By making something smaller you are doing yourself a favour by eating something that is more balanced size wise - and saving yourself time in the process.
#14. Make a Quick Caesar Salad
Another thing to do when you get home and are feeling starved make a quick caesar salad. A handful of lettuce, some croutons, some pre-chopped carrots, a little caesar salad dressing and that will sate your hunger.
While you eat your salad you can make something else that is nutritious that goes with it, eating while you cook. Saves you time and guarantees that you are eating a healthier balance. Combine #13 and #14 and you can - drink a glass of milk, eat a quick salad, make the healthier meal while eating your salad - and you will save both time and feel less hungry during the process.
#15. Buy Fruits and Berries Regularly
For snacks try buying fruits like apples, oranges and grapes regularly. Berries are also great, especially with yogurt.
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