You hate to cook, and if there’s not something healthy readily available, you end up eating junk. The good thing is if those healthier foods are available, you’ll choose them over junk every time.
Consequently, you almost always end up getting “healthy” take-out. Often it’s from Chipotle, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and you even tried a local food-delivery service. Though this has helped you eat cleaner, it’s not sustainable for your budget long-term.
You know you need to take off the training wheels: stop relying on pre-made meals and learn to make your own healthy dishes. But your lack of kitchen skills and distaste for cooking means the solution has to be simple.
Believe it or not, this is a common scenario for both my readers and coaching clients.
Healthy Kitchen Time-Savers:
Meal template, not recipes
Following a recipes takes longer and is more complicated for the basic reason that you have to translate words into actions. Instead, define templates for each meal of the day that you can loosely follow.
For example, your breakfast template could be a green smoothie. The ingredients may vary day-to-day and seasonally, but you always know what you are making.
For lunch, your template could be a monster salad. You throw in a cup of beans or quinoa and whatever veggies you have on hand and top it with a delicious but healthy dressing. Check out my Sweet and Tangy dressing (just 2 ingredients!), straight out of my cookbook. Or check out these 10 ideas for salad dressings you probably already own.
Your dinner template could be a Buddha bowl – 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 cup quinoa, millet, or buckwheat, at least a cup of cooked veggies, and another delicious sauce (I’ve been known to use the “salad dressings” in the above article).
By following these templates, you never have to wonder what you’re making. You just throw in the ingredients you have on hand and eat.
Cook a big pot of beans and grains on Sunday
As the basis for the above meal templates during the week, it helps to have your core calorie sources, aka beans and grains, cooked in advance and ready to go when you need them.
I cook a few days worth of beans in a crockpot overnight then store it for the week in the fridge. When I make grain for any meal, I always make at least a quadruple portion and store the extras.
If you want to get fancier, chop up veggies ahead of time or even purchase pre-packaged chopped veggies. They’ll have lost some nutrition, but it’s a lot healthier for you than not having veggies at all. You know, when getting out the knife and cutting board seems like such a big deal?
Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers
If you go through the effort to actually cook a meal and you aren’t one of those who despise leftovers (like my mom), why not double, triple, or quadruple your recipe and eat it for the next few days? You can always make it more exciting by adding new veggies or sauces to each meal.
For on-the-go food, wrap up your leftovers in a romaine or collard leaf. Voila – it becomes an entirely different meal.
Freeze leftovers in individual portions
If you get tired of the same thing a few days in a row, try freezing your leftovers to allow enough time to pass that they excite you again. It’s like having TV dinners on stand-by except healthier and tastier!
Purchase freezer-safe glass food storage containers at around 1.5 cups size or use glass jars you already have around the house. Then portion out single-servings of your extras into each glass container until they’re all gone. Store in the freezer, and you’ve got go-to meals.
Thaw out in advance on a busy day when you know you won’t feel like cooking. If you didn’t plan ahead, let thaw on the counter for a bit until the contents pops out of the container more easily. Then reheat the contents in a pot on the stove or in the oven. (Just remember not to put hot water on the freezer-cold glass.) To freshen up your resurrected dish, you can add new veggies when reheating or serve it along-side a salad.
Now your turn.
Are you allergic to the kitchen or just too busy to spend any time in there? Do you have a game-changing tip to add? Share your struggles or wisdom in the comments.