By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
One of the most common complaints I hear as a nutritionist is people saying they don’t have time to prepare fresh, nutritious meals and snacks. It can be all too easy to purchase pre-packaged foods, convenience foods or order in to save time.
But many times, these choices can contribute to an unhealthy cycle. When you feel too tired to prepare your own meals, you make poor choices due to unhealthy blood sugar levels and low energy.
Don’t let time stop you from eating a healthy diet.
Here are some of my favorite timesaving tips and hacks to help make your own fresh food healthier and faster.
When cutting up vegetables for a dinner or lunch, you can easily do extra and store in air-tight containers for later use. You can easily throw them into a soup, use for roasting or add them to a salads.
These days you can also buy pre-cut vegetables in the supermarket, which can save loads of time while making homemade food without the added preservatives of packaged foods.
Mandolin, spiralizer or a food processor
Use these tools to make chopping, slicing and dicing easier and quicker. Learn more about making your own spiralized veggies.
Cook once, eat for days
You can easily cook large batches of food to reduce your overall time in the kitchen. I try to do two nights worth of food in one night and make extra so I can have some ready-to-go to meals in the fridge. Prepared foods can be stored in the fridge for up to five days and in the freezer for weeks or months.
Soaking grains such as brown rice overnight can really cut down on the cooking time. Soak oats, quinoa, rice or barley in water overnight or in the morning for six to eight hours. This step not only makes them more digestible but it also reduces the cooking time substantially.
If you are feeling crunched on time, make your own “fast food.” Throw together a five-minute salad, by tossing lettuce into a bowl and adding two or three other veggies (try cucumber, avocado or tomato) and add a protein serve with a little vinegar and olive oil. You’ve just made a healthy meal. Adding nuts and seeds is another way to up the ante on flavor and nutrients. Remember you can eat unlimited amounts of vegetables, so if you’re extra hungry make it big!
Clean as you go
Wash dishes as you’re cooking to save on clean up time later. Washing dishes right away is easier than waiting for the food to dry on then trying to scrub it off.
Reduce your roasting
To avoid flipping vegetables half-way through cooking and reduce the cooking time, pre-heat the baking dish while you’re pre-heating the oven. This makes the vegetable cook well on the face side down. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot dish.
Plan your week
Knowing your weekly eating plan ahead of time and shopping accordingly helps keep you on track. Preparation and planning is one of the major success markers for eating well. Poor eating often comes from spur of the moment hungry choices and we all know what it’s like to shop hungry. You’ll be surprised by how 10 minutes of planning will save you time and boost your energy for the upcoming week. Here’s a sample plan for a week’s worth of lunches.
Crockpot (Slow cookers)
Save time by slowly cooking your meal while you’re out and about. Throw vegetables in the pot with other ingredients and set on low to come home to a hot meal.
I haven’t forgotten about juicing. Many people have a hurdle when they are first starting juicing when it comes to managing all the fruits and veggies and cleaning up after. Try some of these tips to juice like a pro from Day 1.
Juice with a plastic bag in the pulp catcher to reduce clean up time on the juicer.
Pre-cut large amounts of produce for juicing ahead of time and store on a large air-tight container so you can simply put into the juicer.
Make bulk amounts of juice and store in the fridge (up the back) for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two weeks. This will save time on juicing and clean-up. Here’s more on how to store your juices.
Have your juicer set up ready to go with your produce ready to go, so you can easily and quickly juice.
Store your juice and smoothie recipe ingredients together. Put whole produce in a container or a bag and throw them in without thought for a quick and easy smoothie or juice.
For quick and easy healthy menu options see our recipes.