Americans are dining out more than ever. According to the National Restaurant Association, we consume an average of more than 4 meals out per week. This statistic is concerning because when people dine out they are more likely to overeat, by consuming high calorie and high fat foods, than if they ate at home. In fact, research has shown a link between frequency of dining out and obesity.
I know that the 40-hour work week is practically obsolete and commutes are getting longer and longer, so time management is a widespread problem. And unfortunately when people get busy and are under stress healthy habits like cooking nutritious meals and exercising are the first things to be pushed aside. While it may be quick and easy to go through the drive-thru, it's not healthy. And with just a tiny bit of planning you can have healthy meals at home that will leave you feeling much better than drive-thru food.
Crock Pot Cooking
Using a crock pot is a great way to make healthy meals with little effort. Crock pot cooking is really simple because it does the cooking for you. Just throw all the ingredients into the pot and turn it on. When you use a crock pot you can come home to a healthy dinner that’s already made - all you need to do is set the table.
Cook Once and Eat Twice
Another great way to cut down on the time you spend preparing meals is by cooking once and eating twice. When you prepare a meal make a few extra servings for later in the week. By doing this, you will have food ready to eat on days when you are particularly busy. My personal favorite is to cook ahead on the weekends. I prepare my meals for the week on Sunday and then I don’t have to worry about cooking for the rest of the week. I just pull a container out of the refrigerator when I get home from work and heat it up.
Cereal: It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
It’s a common misconception that you have to eat breakfast food at breakfast and lunch food at lunch. If you are short on time, scrambled eggs or a bowl of cereal are very quick and nutritious foods. Consider fixing a sandwich with lean meat and low-fat mayonnaise on whole grain bread for dinner.
Make It a Social Event
Have you considered going to a meal preparation center? These facilities are popping up all over the place and they provide the space, kitchen tools and ingredients for you to make healthy meals for your family. You can prepare your meals there and take them home ready to freeze. You can even split meals if you’re cooking for one or two instead of a large family. This is a fun activity to do with friends and it lets you socialize and be productive. Some of these facilities even encourage you to bring wine and provide snacks for you to munch on while you cook.
When you think about it – it takes minimal effort to prepare healthy meals. In fact, I bet that when you plan ahead and have things in place that enable you to easily and quickly prepare meals, you’ll find that most of the energy you were putting into cooking – was the energy you spent dreading the task.
Published On: April 27, 2007