Healthy Home Cooking Hacks

November 3, 2014

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Save Time to Eat HealthyThe last thing on your mind when you walk in the door at 6 p.m. is slaving away for hours in the kitchen. You’re hungry and want food immediately (and by immediately you mean five minutes ago). But pasta and takeout are not your only instant options. With a little planning, healthy home cooking doesn’t have to be a production every night, and you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less.

Plan ahead. Plan your meals during the weekend to reduce stress during the work week. Before you go to the grocery store, make a menu, and list the ingredients you will need for each meal. It will save you additional shopping trips and motivate you to cook what you buy. You don’t want to waste your fresh produce, so set aside an hour or so Sunday night for meal prep. Chopping fresh veggies and spices is time-consuming, but you can cut your cooking time in half by doing it in advance. You’ll be more inclined to cook during the week if all you have to do is toss your ingredients into a pot or a pan.

Keep it simple. Some of the most delicious entrées are the easiest to make. Experiment with different vinegar-based marinades you can prep before you leave for work.  All you have to do when you get home is pop your dinner in the oven and enjoy!

Make substitutions. You can lighten up most of your favorite comfort foods by being inventive in the kitchen. If you’re a pasta lover, try spaghetti squash, which has a similar texture. Lighten up traditionally fried foods like chicken parmesan by coating the chicken with whole-wheat bread crumbs and baking it at a higher temperature (400 degrees) to get a crispy effect. Love French fries? Slice potatoes thin, sprinkle with olive oil and garlic salt, then bake for 30 minutes.  You’ll satisfy your cravings without packing on the pounds.

Put leftovers away before you eat. If you’re tempted to go back for seconds and thirds, put your leftovers away before you sit down at the table. If it’s out of sight, it’s more likely out of mind. Plus, you have a meal already prepared for another day of the week!

Have fun! Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun! If you’re new to cooking, start by following recipes, and as you get more comfortable, you can experiment with different spices and cooking combinations.  If you have a positive attitude about cooking, you are more likely to do it more often.

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