Do you want to know how chefs, dietitians and other nutrition pros make nutritious meal prep a cinch? Here are their shortcuts, go-to ingredients, cooking techniques and must-buy gadgets for making life easier—and food tastier.
Cooking food at home is one of the best ways to improve your diet, lose weight and transform your health. “Single most important thing we could do as a family to improve our health and general well-being.” Healthy, nutritious meal at the end of a long day can be time-consuming and stressful and can make you anxious and unhappy.
Producing healthy meals at home is a lot easier (and quicker!) than you might think. Here are their secrets. You will want to start using them in your own kitchens:
1. Remember This Trio
There’s a simple formula for my 30-minutes-or-less dinners: Choose a quick-cooking protein (fish, chicken or lean meats are my faves), a quick-cooking whole grain (like whole-wheat couscous or those no-seasonings-added brown rice packets) and a prewashed green (like arugula, spinach or snow peas). You can have a super-tasty dinner on the table in as little as 10 minutes if you know how to simply prepare these three things.
2. Sharpen Your Skills
Skip the costly kitchen gadgets, and just invest in one good, sharp chef’s knife. It’ll save you so much time—as long as you know how to use it. Which is why I also say that if you take one cooking class, make it a knife-skills class.
3. Cheat on Chopping
No time to prep veggies? No problem! Even though you preserve optimal freshness and nutrition before eating them. If it’ll save you time, go ahead and buy pre-sliced carrots, mushrooms or squash. These foods are still packed with nutrients.
4. Shop the Frozen Aisle
It’s best to buy fresh fruit and veggies, but you can go ahead and stock up on frozen fruits and veggies that are good choices.
5. Get Misty
So easy to overuse olive oil and other healthy fats when you’re cooking. If you’re watching your calories and looking to lose weight, invest in one of those oil misters.Then, instead of pouring olive oil straight from the bottle into your pan or over your salad, mist or spritz the olive oil, which will help you use less.
6. Dress to Impress
Make a big batch of vinaigrette and keep it in the fridge. Having a delicious dressing on hand makes the prospect of salad fast and irresistible.
7. Make Greens More Tempting
Wash and dry your greens as soon as you get home from the market, and then store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel so they keep well for days.
8. Spice Things Up
A lot of people equate healthy food with bland food. Adding a little kick to everything from your go-to chicken dish to a pot of steamed broccoli can help get everyone excited about even your same-old healthy recipes. The best part? You can add a little or a lot, depending on your audience.
9. Blend Ambition
Buy a cordless immersion blender. It’s one of the most amazing kitchen appliances that not enough people own. You can use it to grind spices and chilis, or to make a healthy soup—in fact, the list is endless. Often it’s much quicker than using the regular blender, because cleanup is a lot easier.
10. Know the Cheats
A recipe that calls for fresh tomatoes just isn’t going to be as good when you’re chopping hothouse tomatoes that have traveled long distances to get to your grocery store. The same goes for frozen corn in winter. Essentially, when foods aren’t in season, look for the best-quality canned or frozen version—to save yourself time and add a whole lot of flavor.