When you’ve embarked on a health journey, it can seem like everything food-related takes twice as long as it needs to. Grocery shopping becomes an uncertain adventure filled with skepticism and the sinking feeling that advertising companies are trying to trick you into buying something unhealthy that’s packaged as healthy (they are). Cooking can seem like a game where you can only get two of three vital elements: health, tastiness, reasonable prep, and clean-up time. The following aims to help you out a little by presenting some useful tips on how you can cook healthy food with minimal effort.
Never Shop Hungry
Shopping while hungry is a major issue for those looking to cook healthy meals. Not only does it often result in you overbuying food and therefore spending more than ideal, but shopping while hungry also tends to result in you buying things that aren’t healthy. It’s much easier to cook a healthy meal when you don’t have chips and cookies calling to you from the cupboard. By avoiding shopping when hungry, you can limit unhealthy impulse buys, leaving you with more healthy ingredients and less troublesome ones.
Five Ingredients Or Less
When shopping, cut the whole internal debate short and try to purchase whole food items. This means buying produce, eggs, and animal products. When you want to buy time-saving prepared foods, look for things with five comprehensible ingredients or less. A salsa that’s made from tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and garlic is probably okay. A salsa that’s made from tomatoes and a whole bunch of chemical additives can be skipped. This nifty trick can immediately cut down on your unhealthy choices making healthy cooking meals much easier.
Low Maintenance Cooking Methods
Using lower maintenance cooking methods can also make it much easier to cook healthy meals for yourself. Consider a halogen oven or a crock pot. There are cooking options where you simply throw in your ingredients and then take everything out when it’s done. You can also consider one-pot recipes, which, as the name suggests, involve cooking the entire meal in one pot or pan. This greatly reduces clean-up time and gives you only one thing you need to watch over.
While meal planning might not seem like it results in less effort for meal preparation, seeing as it involves an extra step, it actually dramatically decreases the energy and effort required to cook healthy meals. This is because of something known as decision fatigue. It turns out that every choice you make throughout your day drains you of energy, and by the end of the day, you have very little left in you. This often results in poorer choices or avoiding making a choice altogether. When it comes to choosing what to make for dinner, you’re likely already exhausted by your day and tempted just to order food, so you don’t need to deal with it; don’t add one more thing to your to-do list.
Meal planning can take any schedule you like, but a common one tends to involve listing out the dinners and recipes you want to eat for the week on Friday, shopping for your ingredients Saturday morning (when the stores are more empty), and then preparing the ingredients for the week on Sunday. This could involve pre-chopping vegetables, marinating meat, or soaking things like beans.
Meal planning can save you a ton of money as you’re far less likely to overbuy or buy things that go bad in the back of your fridge; you can further increase your savings by selecting meals that use the same ingredients as this will allow you to buy bulk servings of things. As well, if you focus on choosing meals that bless you with leftovers, it can cut down your cooking time considerably. Chili on Monday night can turn into an easy lunch on Tuesday. If you have particular health concerns and need to be eating more of a particular fruit or vegetable, you can also include this in your planning, and rest assured that you’re getting the nutrients and minerals you need.
While not cheaper, organic produce and animal products are way healthier than the standard fare. If you shop organic, you don’t need to change anything in your food preparation habits to reap health benefits. Talk about minimal effort!
The above information should have helped you realize that there are a lot of ways to make your cooking experience less daunting. It’s important not to underestimate the power of habit. Once a habit is in place, it becomes easy to do. In fact, once a habit is in place, it often becomes hard to do something different.