There are lots of ways to make quick meals with an eye towards health. It’s all in the planning and preparation. Planning is key for me, because I know myself well enough to know that if there aren’t good ingredients around, I’ll be tempted to have popcorn and beer for dinner. For this reason, I make a concerted effort to shop for ingredients that lend themselves to fixing a healthy, tasty meal in less than 20 minutes. I also do a little prep work on Sundays so I can spend less time washing, chopping and roasting on the weeknights. Here are some of my favorite timesavers:
- Plan your food shopping trip with the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating in mind – don’t put anything in your cart that doesn’t fall under one of the pillars; whole food, plant-strong™, healthy fats, and nutrient dense.
- Pre-wash and cut salad vegetables at the start of your week and store them in airtight containers in the fridge. This way, you can throw a big salad together in minutes, day or night.
- Make a bowl of fresh salsa to top your rice and beans. It’s delicious, healthy, and so colorful. Pack the leftovers for lunch the next day; just remember to pack the salsa separately.
- Roast a few sweet potatoes on Sunday, then use them throughout the week in wraps, on salads, in soups, or steam sautéed with some greens and beans.
- Learn to make healthier salad dressings, and prepare one ahead of time so it's at the ready when you need it.
- Cook with freezing in mind. Make nutrient dense soups, stews and casseroles, and freeze leftovers as individual portions. You'll have quick lunches and dinners at your fingertips.
- Stock your pantry with dry beans and grains, low-sodium canned beans or our 365 frozen precooked grains. Rinse canned beans and add to soups and salads, or make a quick hummus or bean dip. Eating from cans isn't always a bad thing!
- Build your own trail mix snack with your favorite nuts and/or seeds, and unsweetened dried fruits. Create single serving portions for grab and go convenience.
- Keep plenty of frozen vegetables in the freezer. This is a quick and easy way to make sure you always have vegetables on-hand for meals, without worrying about spoilage in the veggie bin. Frozen fruits are great too, especially if you like a sweet treat like our Banana Nice Cream at the end of your meal.
- Learn to cook with whole grains. Many whole grains (like quinoa) cook up in 20 minutes or less!