Healthy Eating Time Savers Exist
Most people profess they want to eat healthier. Time: our biggest enemy. This week I decided to share some time-saver tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to support my own efforts to make eat healthy eating easier.
1. Prep Food for the Week When Making Another Meal.
Extend Sunday dinner food prep time. I prepare extra food for the week to save myself time during the weekdays, which disappear in the blink of an eye as life sucks them into a vortex of work and errands. I already have the cutting board and knife out – why not wash and steam veggies for the week, cut fruit, and package them into containers that can be easily grabbed and taken to-go? A true healthy-eating time-saver during the week that ensures I get my steamed broccoli and leafy greens.
* If time for food prep is a real issue and prevents you from eating veggies, I strongly recommend purchasing pre-cut veggies and fruit sold at grocery stores. This allows you to jump right into the cooking – or eat them raw.
2. Think Ahead.
Make more than you need for one meal so that you can package extra portions for lunches or heat up a quick dinner later that week. If I’m going to cook 1 lb of chicken breast, why not just cook 2 pounds and enjoy some easy meals later?
3. Healthy Dressings as Marinades.
Accentuate flavors of food without adding sugar or bad fat with quick marinades. Check out my White Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe.
“There’s no time!” Ok Scully, purchase a quality dressing from Annie’s or Whole Foods that uses little sugar if any and avoids high-fructose corn syrup. Marinade meat or fish in the dressing as is, or punch up flavor with extra vinegar, salt and pepper. It will take you 5 minutes. BOOM! Done. That just happened.
4. The Magic Pot Cooks for You.
The crock-pot works year round. Part of the magic of electricity. It keeps your oven off and your meat juicy and tender, while you do very little work. All you have to remember is to defrost your meat. Season it, add some liquid. Use a healthy dressing/marinade; a favorite salsa; or leftover stock, sauce, or gravy that you have from another meal. The more flavor you add to the meat in the beginning, the more it will have in the end when it’s cooked. For the 5 minutes of work that it takes to choose which container to open, you can’t beat this magic pot as a healthy eating time-saver. Here’s a winning magic pot recipe of my own I love.
5. Keep Healthy, Easy-to-Use Foods On-Hand.
There are certain healthy foods that are easy to prepare and cook, that will satisfy you. I keep them in my pantry at all times as top healthy eating time-savers. So besides the standard array of fruits and veggies that I recommend:
Sweet potatoes: A healthy and hearty side dish to a meal, you can roast, bake, boil, mash, and grill them. And you can always quickly microwave one. Low glycemic index, full of fiber, beta-carotene, other antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, sweet potatoes don’t need much added seasoning or fat to taste good and are a great addition to any meal.
Spinach salad: Trader Joe’s sells a ready to go bag of spinach salad that includes the cranberries, pecans, blue cheese, and dressing. You can go this route, or just have the individual items on hand.
spinach – I use it instead of lettuce because it has a much higher vitamin and fiber count.
nuts – because of their nutritive qualities and they are a good fat.
dried cranberries – hard to find any not covered in sugar, so up to you if you want to use them – they are yummy.
dressing – I prefer to use my own because I know there’s no hidden sugar in it. Be smart in dressing selection.
goat cheese – instead of blue because I’m allergic to cow’s milk, soft cheeses are lower in fat.
Keep those items on hand and easily build a fabulous spinach salad as a side dish or as an entrée to top with fish, chicken, or a legume like beans or lentils.
Pre-cooked organic brown rice: Trader Joe’s sells a frozen and non-frozen version – very easy to heat and eat a healthy whole grain. Mix with black beans and salsa, add guacamole on the side for a very balanced and healthy quick meal. Check out my 5 Minutes to Mexico Recipe.
Garlic Clove Foods ready-to-cook whole grain and veggie/legume blends: Whole Foods sells this brand of preservative–free, no sodium added, prepackaged whole grains mixed with veggies or legumes. Mix with chicken broth and cook for 20 or 25 minutes. POOF – you have perfectly cooked healthy whole grains!
Seeds of Change pre-cooked whole grain blends: Like Trader Joe’s brown rice, Whole Foods sells Seeds of Change quinoa and wild rice precooked packages. Great to have on hand when you don’t have a healthy lunch or need a quick dinner. Grab the bag and run out the door. Quickly heat it up. For a complete protein, add a can of no sodium Eden organic beans, or top with leftover chicken.
Eden Organic No Sodium Beans: Whether I need a can of black beans to add to brown rice or make a black bean dip; chickpeas to make hummus or to roast for a crunchy snack; pinto or navy beans to add to a whole grain pasta or a quinoa salad; beans are an important protein source, complementing whole grains, and a great source of fiber. They are also full of vitamins and minerals.
Trader Joe’s Pre-cooked Lentils: What a healthy-eating time saver! I want the fiber, vitamins and minerals lentils offer, but who has the time to cook them? Open, heat and eat. Add to whole grains, soups, stews, or salads. These are a staple.
Blueberries, Pears, and Apples: Blueberries are high in fiber and antioxidants – I toss them onto oat bran, oatmeal, breakfast quinoa, granola, into muffins, or eat them plain – I can’t get enough of them. Pears and apples are both super high in fiber and easy to eat on the go. These fruits save me time because I don’t have to think about a high-fiber food source – not to mention the vitamins and antioxidants – I can just grab these them and know I’m getting it.
Andrea Morroney saysJuly 12, 2012 at 10:07 am
Hey Angie, OK, speaking of time-savers, I went to our weekly Farmer’s Market in Havertown as I do every Wed and bought fresh lettuce, swiss chard, green beans, broc, peaches, plums, etc and, like every Wed., spent the next two hours cleaning everything. The quality at these seasonal markets is unmatched, but it is SO much work when I get home. I find that in order to store fresh produce after I clean it, it needs to be really dry, stored in towles, etc. so that it doesn’t get mushy. Any suggestions for cleaning veggies easily (maybe some gadget that I don’t know of???) cause I use an awful lot of dish towels and papertowels to ring out the water post-cleaning? Any storage ideas? Yours in Havertown PA, Andrea
Angela saysJuly 12, 2012 at 10:31 am
Great question. Yes, fruits and veggies take lots of time to clean. The time saver gadget I use for ALL my greens (spinach, kale, collard, herbs) is a salad spinner. This gets them SOOO dry that I only need towels to wrap and store them, not to dry them. I LIVE by this gadget. When it comes to my berries, I usually will let them air dry in the colander after I’ve rinsed them, then put them away. That way I don’t have to dry them. Does that help??