Recipes for Life: Too Busy to Cook?

Man at the grocery store using his cell phone to look at his shopping listMany of us would like to improve the quality of our diets, but the thought of cooking nutritious meal feels overwhelming. Most healthy meals appear too laborious and who has the time?

Aside from little time, there is also the taste factor.

Most nutritious meals seem tasteless, if not just plain dull. Is it possible to cook meals in minutes that are not only healthy, but tasty too?

The answer is yes. This information will give tips and recipes for healthy, tasty meals you can throw together in no time flat.

Organization is the key. Plan meals ahead of time and have the ingredients at your fingertips. Make a list before heading to the grocery store. A well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer are essential for having last minute, healthy and tasty meals in minutes.

There are recipes for meatless entrees for those who are trying to avoid animal fats and recipes for those who are trying to please finicky children. So let's get started.

The first step is planning ahead. This means putting together a menu for the coming week. If conjuring up dinners for an entire seven days feels too overwhelming, why not just plan for three out of seven nights? Three dinners are better than zero dinners, right? Perhaps you can use leftovers from one night to make dinner for the next night. Leftover chicken, for example, can be used in a Chinese chicken salad or in a casserole dish.

The second step is making a grocery list. Check your pantry and freezer shelves and write down what you will need. Keep the list handy and add ingredients as you think of them. A good grocery list helps to prevent last minute trips to the store and money as well.

Once you have everything you need, cooking is simply a matter of throwing together some ingredients and adding heat. That is all there is to it. Oh, except the final and most important step... Sit down, eat and enjoy! You've earned it!

Tips For Healthy Cooking

  • Make a "universal" grocery list: Write down all the standard items (like milk, produce, dry foods) you usually buy. Make copies and fill in specific items for the week.
  • Take advantage of supermarket sales and/or wholesale clubs. Stock your freezer with chicken breasts, lean ground meats and poultry.
  • Brown ground meats or poultry ahead of time, drain off the grease, store in zip-lock bags and freeze. This makes last minute tacos or other meals a breeze.
  • Defrost frozen meats or poultry in the fridge overnight. Bacteria can grow on the outside of meats while defrosting if left out on a counter.
  • Wash, chop and freeze many of the vegetables used in stews, soups, sauces and casseroles. Try this the next time a recipe calls for onions, celery, or peppers.
  • Make double the recipe for spaghetti sauce, soups and casseroles. Freeze half and have it on hand for an especially tiring day.
  • Buy frozen mixed vegetables for last minute fajitas or stir-fries. Cutting up fresh vegetables constitutes most of the work in these dinners.
  • Romaine lettuce has a longer life in the refrigerator than other lettuces and it is the most nutritionally packed too! Wash ahead of time and store in an airtight container. This helps take some of the drudgery out of making salad each night.
  • Buy fresh raviolis, tortellini and pastas. Store in ziplock bags in the freezer. Fresh pastas taste better and cook quicker than dried varieties.
  • Plan ahead and use leftovers. Slice up leftover meats and chicken for fajitas, tacos, stir-fries, pastas, and salads. Cook extra rice and pasta and store in an airtight container for the next night's meal.
  • Learn to use your microwave! Though most just use it for warming leftovers, it is the best method for cooking vegetables. Just wash vegetables, place in a microwaveable dish and cover with plastic wrap. "Nuke" for 3 minutes, stir gently and "nuke" for another 3 minutes. This cooking time covers most vegetables and they taste great!

Material © San Franisco Spine Center. Used by Permission.

Updated on: 03/04/16
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Introduction to Nutrition
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Introduction to Nutrition

Though your life may be hectic, there are still many great, healthy choices to help you lose weight and improve your health.
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