A lot of people tell me that they don’t have time or money to eat healthy. I agree that you can spend a lot of time on food prep and money if you are shopping at your local Whole Foods. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I eat healthy every day (aside from holidays when all bets are off). I do this by planning in advance and making sure what I am eating tastes good.
You can do this to by following some or all of my suggestions.
1. Prep in advance. I rarely eat a freshly cooked meal. It’s a trade-off between eating something quick and not so healthy or preparing something nutritious in advance and reheating it. In the case of curries or chilis, it actually makes it better! I usually do my food prep on Sundays and Thursdays. I make a big salad, bake some chicken breasts, hard boil some eggs and make a chili. On Thursdays I’ll make a soup, make another salad, boil up some grains for the salad. In my fridge everything is prepared and packaged. I just grab and go. The time investment is about 2-3 hours per week for all my meals and snacks.
2. Focus on taste as well as nutrition. It’s tempting to eat dry salad and boiled fish. But that’s not eating healthy, that’s torture. There are a number of ways to eat delish food and be healthy. We’ve been told that unless it’s a leafy green or a lean, grass-fed meat that it’s not good for us. I like to add broth to my quinoa or buckwheat which adds some flavour. Using cocoa powder instead of sweeteners tastes amazing and doesn’t add sugar to your breakfast porridge. A little fat can make things taste good and satiate you. Feel free to add a moderate amount of olive oil to your salads or throw some sour cream on your baked potato.
3. Equip your kitchen with time saving tools. I have two slow-cookers which have made my life so much easier. I can make stews, roast meat or veggies, make porridge. Slow cookers cost as little as $20 or as much as $100. From my experience, the cheap ones are just as good as the expensive ones. Another amazing tool is a spiralizer. You can make zucchini noodles, add shaved beets to salads, slice apples. I also can’t live without my cast iron frying pan. Not only does it infuse my meals with iron, but I cook my food in healthy coconut oil (not on some weird chemical that doesn’t stick). They go in the oven as well and you can use it to make things like frittatas.
4. I plan my meals in advance. I like to plan meals about a month out. This way, when I”m shopping, I can buy things in bulk that I will be using over the course of the month. So many people don’t eat healthy because they throw out so much of this food because it goes bad before they can eat it. If you’re buying a giant tub of natural yogurt, plan different meals around it.
5. I have my staples that I use in different ways. I usually roast about 6 sweet potatoes, I make a couple cups of grains, I will roast up some beets. I can use these things in different recipes and I’m not chopping potatoes at the last minute. I used the sweet potatoes this week to make a pudding with cinnamon and walnuts, I added it to a soup and I packed it in Anthony’s lunch with a slab of roast beef (which was cooked in the slow cooker on the weekend). I made buckwheat this week and I used in in soups, on salads and if I have any leftover, I’ll toss it in a shake.
6. Have shakes. I love a green shake. Not only is it healthy, but it’s a great way of using up veggies. You can also make a soup or pizza, but that would take time. I toss together, carrots, broccoli, zucchini – you name it – in the blender with some bananas and cocoa powder and you can barely taste it. There is little you can’t put in a shake. I will say this – collard greens are not good in a shake unless you want to feel like you are drinking a health food store.
7. Freeze what you don’t use. I have herbs, soups and fruit suspended in time in my freezer. You can use your ice cube tray as a herb holder. Just chop up some herbs, put some water in the tray and put the herbs in. If you have leftover wine (though in my home that doesn’t exist) you can make wine ice cubes with basil for your pasta sauce. I also freeze avocados and bananas – two items that you have to wait to ripen and invariably I have too many and they go bad before I can eat them.
8. Don’t be perfect. So many people ditch their food prep habit because they are too busy to spend an hour chopping veggies or making a soup. Don’t be too proud to hit the pre-cut veggie section. Shell out a few extra bucks for the fancy soup at the natural food store. Buy a rotisserie chicken that you can eat for a week. All these things are way less time, money and cost to your health than hitting a drive thru. The point is to feed yourself good food that contributes to your vitality. If spending 2 hours is going to drain you and make you resent your healthy lifestyle, give yourself a break and find some healthy conveniences.
Here’s to happy eating!