Sabtu, 05 Maret 2011

4 Easy Tips To Have Healthy Meals In No Time

It's time to eat and it's time to eat NOW! I know this because I can hear a symphony orchestra playing in my stomach through my t-shirt and sweater. I'm surprised nobody asked me to turn the volume down. I'm not quite sure I have the time it takes for the food I have in the refrigerator to be done. I'm sure I'll be passed out and comatose on the floor by then! So I run down to the corner to grab food from the quickest place I can find. In comes the realization that the money I just spent could have made 2 or 3 meals had I gone to the store with it and bought groceries. I'd also probably feel less greasy and spaced out had I made a nice home-cooked meal with no mystery ingredients.
I'm sure many can relate to this situation. In today's fast-paced world, where even five year olds have fuller social calendars than I do, we have jam-packed lives with very little time for cooking. This is definitely one of the reasons why the fast food industry is a billion dollar one. This is what I know for sure, however: cooking for yourself is more nutritious AND it saves you money. Health and money, now these are two things we can all use more of! After all, our health is truly our wealth. So allow me to increase your health and save you some more money for retirement by sharing some of my tried and true time-saving tips in the kitchen.
#1: Plan ahead
Eating healthier this year will not get done unless you properly plan it. And the first step in any plan is being clear about when it will happen. Just as you schedule other important appointments, block off a time in your planner each day or a few times a week that you will prepare your meals. Be sure to honor your commitment to yourself. What's also helpful is at the top of the week, jot down the meals you want to have throughout the week. This eliminates the guess work and stress of trying to figure out what's for dinner when time is of the essence.
#2: Prepare one-pot meals
Become a master at making soups, stews and casseroles. These dishes, often made with a variety of food categories, are usually packed with both flavor and nutrition. For example, a hearty soup during the winter is a great way to get grains, vegetables and a protein source all in one shot. Making one-pot meals saves time with cleaning up as well, since you won't be left with multiple pots and pans to clean up after your meal.
#3: Prep staple ingredients ahead of time
If you know you oftentimes use onion, garlic, tomatoes and carrots in your cooking, then have these things already washed and chopped in your refrigerator so they're ready to go when you need them for cooking. Also, wash, pick and even chop your fresh herbs and store them in the refrigerator. If you don't chop the washed herbs right away, wrap them in paper towel and store them in a sealed plastic bag to maximize their freshness.
#4: Cook once, eat many times
This tip is what maximizing your time in the kitchen is all about. It can mean that you're preparing a large enough quantity of food to have leftovers for several days. It can also mean that you cook a large amount of a staple ingredient and use it in a variety of ways throughout the week. Grains, for example, are very versatile. From one pot of quinoa, you can have several dishes. Quinoa is great as side dish for dinner, but then take that same quinoa and make a porridge for breakfast (be sure to puree it in the blender if you want a smooth consistency). And let's not forget that a quinoa salad with parsley, carrots and cucumber with a lemon vinaigrette is the most refreshing and energizing dish ever! The possibilities are endless.
It is totally do-able to prepare fresh, wholesome meals when you don't have hours to devote in the kitchen. It just takes a little planning and creativity on your part. As in learning anything new, be patient with yourself as you learn these habits. Once these tips are effortlessly incorporated into your routine, you'll have less stress around meal time, more money in your bank account and more home-cooked and nourishing meals. As I like to say, a nourished belly equals a happy belly and a happy belly equals a healthy person.

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