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You’ve finally made it home from work. Make it through the traffic, through the commute, and now you’re ready to sit down at home and relax but wait! There’s still more to do, and now it’s time to cook. For many people, the thought of cooking a meal after a long day is daunting. That’s why so many Americans rely on quick, unhealthy meals like fast food or pre-prepared dinners. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice your health for convenience. You can eat better without spending hours in the kitchen every night with these tips.
Keep it Simple
You don’t need a recipe or complicated directions to enjoy an easy, delicious meal. Protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains are basic building blocks for nutritious, stress-free meals. For a quick dinner, you could combine store-bought rotisserie chicken with your favorite frozen veggies and a microwavable grain or starchy side dish. You can also skip meat entirely by using canned beans (rinse before using) or adding cooked brown rice to your favorite canned soup.
Look for prepared foods at the grocery store
Stores often have rotisserie chickens and other prepared foods low in fat and sodium and easy on your wallet. Look in the deli section, salad bar, and frozen food aisle. Even if they’re not always the cheapest option, they can be a lifesaver when you’re busy with work or kids’ activities.
Try a Meal Delivery Service
If you want someone else to cook, consider ordering prepared meals delivered to your home today. These businesses provide fully prepared meals that can be reheated easily and enjoyed at home or on the go. If you choose a service, check out their menu options ahead of time to ensure they fit your dietary needs and preferences.
Invest in a Slow Cooker
When it comes time to cook, use a slow cooker, the great thing about slow cookers is that they allow you to put everything into one pot and leave it alone for several hours. You’ll come home after work with a delicious meal ready and waiting for you with no extra work required. Plus, if you’re making something from scratch and have access to a slow cooker, you can reduce the number of ingredients required by skipping those meant for thickening.
Snack on Fruit and Vegetables
Snacking can be one of the most challenging habits to break for those who want to eat healthier. However, if done right, snacking can be great for your health. Instead of filling your diet with junk food high in sugar and calories, plan to snack on fruit and vegetables instead.
Plan Your Meals
It’s easy to get off track regarding healthy eating, especially if you’re busy with work and family. Planning your meals can help take some stress from deciding what to eat for lunch or dinner each day. You can plan for the whole week ahead or decide on your meals for the following day each night before bed.
Eat out wisely
You don’t have to give up eating at restaurants. You can come up with a plan. Look up the restaurant’s menu online, and decide what you’re going to order before going there. That way, you can make the healthiest choices without feeling rushed or pressured. If you have trouble finding healthy options, ask the server for recommendations.
Cook in batches
When you cook, make several servings at once, and freeze half for another night. This will save time later and help keep you from reaching for pizza delivery or fast food. Some things that freeze well include soups, stews, chili, and even casseroles. You can also make extra portions of side dishes like roasted vegetables or brown rice, which can be added to chicken salad or served as a base for stir-fry.
Hopefully, at least one of these ideas will boil down your search, reduce your time cooking, and help you eat healthier. You can even cook once and enjoy leftovers for two or three more days! Ultimately, with the options that your local grocery stores provide, including everything from Lean Cuisine to gluten-free foods, there’s no reason why you can’t find several recipes that you like. Just make sure to check the ingredients and nutritional panels to see if they fit into your diet before you choose one.