Nutrition Toolbox: Tips for Cooking Healthy at HomePublished on Thursday, December 09, 2021 by
Whether you are pressed for time or looking for some tips, we got you.
Back in the 1960’s, the average meal preparation and clean-up time was 2 ½ hours per day, which is obviously not the state of meal prep now with the average time for meal preparation and clean-up between 42 minutes (for men) to just under 1 ½ hours per day (for women). This is up from an average of 33 minutes (for men) and 1 hour and 20 minutes (for women) in 2013.
On any given day, over a ⅓ of the adult population are eating fast food. And furthermore, people are eating fast food on average 1-3 times a week. There are so many reasons for this, convenience being a huge one.
Let’s look at some strategies for cooking at home to make it more convenient to control your menu choices:
Block off time in your schedule each week to meal prep.
Preparing your meals for the week ahead of time will keep you on schedule for healthy eating. Make your first two meals and have them ready to go in the refrigerator for the week and then freeze the rest of the meals for quick thawing for the rest of the week. If you don’t mind having leftovers or being creative with your dishes, make a double-batch of foods such as pasta and protein which can be enjoyed in other ways later in the week!
Prepare one-dish meals.
Anything that you can prepare ahead of time either cooked or prepared raw to become cooked will save you time. Look for one-dish meals, such as fajitas, stir-fry, chicken and rice, vegetable lasagna, or a quiche that you can either prepare in a freezer bag to be cooked at a later time or prepared in advance to be eaten during the week.
Stock your pantry & refrigerator smartly.
If you don’t have time to prepare meals for the whole week or if you just aren’t feeling what you had planned for dinner one night, do not worry. Keeping an intelligent pantry and refrigerator will keep you from straying to the drive-thru too often. Some staples could include frozen vegetables (these are preserved with much less salt than canned if you don’t have fresh on hand), pasta, bread, tuna, cheese, eggs and a nice pancake mix (like this gluten free one) for example. These 7 staples can give you 8 different dinners off the top of my head. If you can think of more, let me know...
Use your kitchen equipment to your advantage.
Slow cookers and Instant Pots can be a game changer when you are strapped for time. Create a one-pot meal beforehand in a freezer bag and when you know you won’t have time to cook, put it in the slow cooker before you go or in the Instant Pot when you get home for a speedy and nutritious meal.
Here’s another tasty pancake mix to check out: Gluten Free Pancake Mix (Pack of 4)
These are just a few tips for cooking healthy at home and we would love to hear from you if you have some meal prepping tips or favorite healthy meals that you enjoy making at home. Please leave us a comment!
Allison KochPhD, RDN