One of the more prevalent complaints I hear when it comes to nailing down healthy eating habits is “I don’t have time”. A dismissal usually accompanied with a scrunchy face that I, optimistically, chalk up to being overwhelmed. Most people cringe at the thought of making 4-6 meals a day for themselves, let alone their families.
I get it. I have a hectic schedule and a family, myself. That’s why I figured these 7 tips out quickly. Even if you don’t meal prep, these will save you time! Keep in mind, time is money. This mean some of these options will probably cost a little bit more money, so it’s for you to decide on the trade-off.
1. Utilize the Slow Cooker EVERY Chance You Get
I have multiple crockpots, but primarily use the one pictured above because you can set a timer for either temp or time and then it auto switches to a “keep warm” setting making your life even easier, because who hangs around the house for 6-10 hours waiting for the slow cooker to finish? Here’s a quick list of things I cook in the slow cooker that makes my life abundantly easier:
- Meats (any and all of them)
- Potatoes and a few other Veggies
- Casseroles (you can generally play with any casserole recipe to make it work in a slow cooker)
- Rice or Quinoa
- Soups, Stews, and Chilis
2. You Can Microwave Just About Anything
If you’re in a hurry or just making a single serving, you can use your microwave and save time with meal prep and clean up. Steam veggies in a glass bowl covered in plastic wrap or a wet paper towel for a BPA free option. You can buy rice in steam bags that are microwavable. Most food companies have become hip to our time constraints and have some microwave variation to preparation instructions. Use them.
3. Use Pre-Packaged, Already Cooked or Prepped Foods
You will obviously pay a premium for this option compared to doing it yourself, but sometimes it’s just worth it. A word of caution with this option: read the ingredients and nutrition label for additives. Pre-made foods generally come with added ingredients to preserve or flavor. Keep a particular eye on added sugar and sodium. My favorite place to take advantage of this is in the product department., where you can by fruits and vegetables that have already been washed, peeled, chopped, diced, seasoned, whatever you may be looking for.
4. One Pot Meals
There are a ton of dishes like stews, chilis, soups that are all made in the same pot so you don’t have to do ALL the dishes. This is one of my favorites that I make in several batches and freeze for later:
5. Use Disposable Containers for Cooking
Let me preface this with an acknowledgement that this option is not the best for the planet, so please buy recycled and/or recyclable options and then actually recycle them. Foil baking dishes, paper bowls and plates can all save time and water when it’s time to clean up. Additionally, these items can all be purchased in bulk (are you noticing a pattern? I really hate to do dishes). You can also store or pack food in plastic bags rather than containers.
6. Create a Cooking Coop or Group
Most people trying to maintain lean mass eat around 5-6 times a day, which can get a bit tedious to make for a few days at a time. If you have other friends that prep, suggest that they make double of one dish and you make double of yours and you can trade meals instead of having to make 2 separate meals. If you can get several people in on it, all the better! It’s essentially potluck meal prepping.
7. Use a Meal Prep Service
There are tons of excellent meal prep services that can be delivered to you or be bought in store. My favorite is Icon Meals for a couple of reasons.
- The delivery fee is the lowest of any of the others I have seen.
- The food is the best I have had
- You can order proteins and sides by the pound so that you can mix and match your meals.