How to eat healthier when you have no time

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Cooking healthy meals doesn’t have to be complicated.

The number one topic of conversation that I have with my clients during our coaching sessions is about eating healthier. The questions that arise start with WHAT, WHEN and HOW? What do I cook? When will I have the time to cook? And how do I cook it?

As a Women’s Wellness Coach, Lifestyle Medicine Specialist and Culinary Coach, my job is to motivate clients to figure out the answers to these questions for themselves. But this is a broad topic with lots of moving parts that can be overwhelming to say the least; which is what prompted me to write this piece.

As simply as I can, I’m going to help you figure out how to make healthier meals when you have no time so you can achieve every goal you’ve set for yourself, in addition to living a long healthy life.

What meals should I make?

Ask yourself this; what specific foods do you and your family like to eat? Make a grocery list of these favorites keeping in mind the concept of lifestyle medicine; which is what you eat plays the largest role with your health, so vegetables should always be at the forefront.

In a perfect world, three-quarters of your plate would be full of vegetables because a plant-based diet has been proven to be the most beneficial to your health. But this transition doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s ok to include low fat proteins like fish and chicken while creating this list.

Now what?

Once you have an idea of the specific foods you’d like to eat, do a Google search of ‘best easy healthy __________ recipes’ filling in the blank with anything from your list. This is a quick way to pull together a few meal ideas to brainstorm concepts focusing on simple and easy.

For instance, if I were to Google ‘best simple easy vegetable recipes’, here is what my search results would show; BEST SIMPLE EASY VEGETABLE RECIPES HERE. There are literally 437 million ideas from just this one search option. This is a fantastic way to brainstorm and get creative with the help of the internet. Pinterest is also a great tool to utilize.

Personally, I signed up with Food Network to receive emails about my food interests and here is one I received today; which I will use to plan and prep for next week; 107 Quick and Healthy Dinner Ideas.

When will I have the time to make meals?

The simple answer to this question is you will have the time to make meals if you incorporate the two P’s; PLANNING and PREPPING. Plan when you can prep the vegetables, get the chicken in the marinade or make the breadcrumb topping for the fish, whatever it may be, remembering this doesn’t have to be all at one time.

If you have an extra 15-minutes before you have to leave for soccer practice, pull those carrots out and chop them up into a food container so they’re waiting for you in the refrigerator. Or choose a doable day of the week, like Sunday, to prep your foods for the busier days.

Let’s face it, we’ve all ordered a pizza because it’s just too much to even think about cooking at the end of a long day. But using your time wisely leading up to dinner on a specific day will make your life easier rather than starting from scratch when everyone is hungry. The bottom line is, if you want to eat healthier, you have to plan on how you’re going to do that just like you plan anything else in your life.

Some more bits of advice would be:

  1. Wash and dry your vegetables when you buy them before putting away.
  2. Double your recipe so that you have leftovers for the next day for lunch or another dinner.
  3. If you know you’re using an ingredient twice, chop it once and put what you need aside.
  4. Use a produce bag or big bowel for your waste so you’re not walking to the garbage repeatedly.
  5. Use frozen vegetables; which are a fantastic way to save time; frozen peas are my fav.
  6. Buy prepped vegetables in the produce section to save even more time.
  7. Make a big vegetable brown rice and add whatever proteins you’d like into it throughout the week.

How do I cook the meals I want?

The #1 mistake most people make is believing that cooking is complicated. It’s not. You can make anything simply with just a few ingredients. Having EVOO and low sodium broths are two must-have staples in your kitchen to add healthy flavor to any meal.

Using the recipe ideas from your Google search, getting your family involved, setting an example, and just going for it, will help you realize how easy cooking a healthy meal can be. Like anything, practice and being unafraid to make a mistake will strengthen your cooking skills and with time you’ll be creating healthy dishes you never thought possible.

My background.

I grew up with a dad who loved to cook and he showed me the ropes. And then I married a guy who worked on cooking shows and came home proudly sharing what he had learned. I literally had a cooking lesson each week in addition to watching Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals where I learned all of the ways to make meals quick and easy. With all of this experience, I now offer this knowledge to my clients with one on one culinary coaching.

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