No Time To Cook?

Do you ever feel as though even with all the advances in technology meant to make life easier you have less time, not enough hours in the day? Your to-do-list just carries over from one day to the next? Who has time to cook!

Not having time to cook each day, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health and well-being. Where do you start?

The first thing I recommend, take a long, hard look at what is eating up your time and eliminate anything that isn’t moving you toward your life’s goals. For example, maybe you are spending too much time on social media or checking email. Set limits on those things, such as agreeing to only check them twice a day. Turn off your automatic notifications.

Here are a few suggestions for eating nutritious food when you just don’t have the time or maybe the energy to cook.

  1. The crock pot, or slow cooker needs to become your best friend. There is nothing better than coming home, after a hard day at work, to the smell of a homemade dinner. Throw in some simple ingredients in the morning, set it and forget it. Come home, get the plate or bowl and dig in!
  2. The pressure cooker. Okay, so maybe you forgot to throw something in the slow cooker and you really want something quick and nutritious. Say hello to the pressure cooker. They come in a wide variety of price ranges and anything from stove top to electronic. If you like dried beans but never seem to be able to get them soft enough, this will be your new favorite kitchen gadget. Dried beans cook in very little time and come out wonderfully creamy.
  3. Batch cooking is another great option. Pick a day when you know you have a small block of time and cook enough food for the next five days. For example, cook chicken breasts in the way you like them best and then use them as the protein in your meal, on top of a salad, or in tacos.
  4. Salads are a great option. No cooking involved.
  5. Got kids, need to make a kid friendly mac-n-cheese that doesn’t come prepackaged and is fast. Use the microwave to make your own quick cooking mac-n-cheese. Maybe it is the grown-ups that are craving comfort food. I say go for it. Who says mac-n-cheese is just for kids.
  6. When none of these options will do, order from your favorite restaurant but choose wisely. Don’t be afraid to ask them to eliminate the salt, sugar, or other not-so-healthy ingredient. Ask for the nutritional information on the food you are ordering. You have a right to know what you are eating.

Quick Cooking Mac-n-Cheese

Place 1/3 cup elbow macaroni or small shells into a large mug or bowl with a scant 1/2 cup of water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir and microwave for 2 additional minutes, stirring in-between. The pasta should be cooked and water absorbed. Stir in a scant 1/4 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of cheddar, jack or other cheese of your choice. This would be the time to also add things like Dijon mustard, hot sauce, or other flavor enhancers. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Microwave for 30-60 seconds. Stir and eat. It is helpful to have the milk and cheese sitting out as the pasta cooks so it starts to warm to room temperature.

Tips: Throw in some broccoli or other chopped vegetables for a more nutritious meal. This is also a great recipe to show the older kids. Now when you just want to relax they can make it on their own.

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Healthy eating time savers!

Whether you are caring for others as a profession, caring for ailing or aging loved ones, you’re a parent, or just a busy professional, it seems there are plenty of days where healthy eating seems to take too much time.

When you are on the go, it’s much easier to grab food from the nearest restaurant or even worse, the fast food joint.

Who hasn’t gone to the grocery store and picked up a ready made meal from the freezer section for those nights when you get home late and just want something to eat and you want it fast? Guilty!

Here is what keeps me eating healthier when it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day. Try them out and let me know your time savers.

First, I never leave home without emergency food. I bought a soft-sided cooler that I love to carry. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an avid cyclist and I found a small cooler with a cool bicycle on the side. It has been my experience that if you buy something you find fun, you will be more apt to use it.

I pack things that would hold me until I can get home, fresh fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and extra water. If I know I will be out for an extended time, I pack salad or sandwich, or maybe even leftovers. I make sure to keep it simple, have it accessible and get it ready the night before so that I can grab it and go.

Some of you are saying, “Well what if I don’t even have time for that?” I say, “How badly do you want to be healthy?” Make smarter choices, don’t wait until you are famished to decide what you will eat. Look at the menu for the healthiest option you can find. It is much easier for me to make the time to get my food ready the night before than it is to decide what food is healthy on a restaurant menu. You decide what works for you.

Another time saving tip for eating healthier, cook once, eat twice or maybe three times. I’m a big fan of leftovers. There are certain foods that taste better the second or third day.

Save time by cooking soups and meals that freeze well. When I make a pan of lasagna, I make a 9×13 size pan. After it has had enough time to set up, I cut it into individual serving sizes, wrap tightly, and freeze. I can have lasagna any time I have a craving for Italian.

If you like pizza but don’t have time to make your own dough, check with your favorite Italian pizzeria. Many of them will sell you the dough for your freezer. Thaw, add your own healthy toppings and you will never go back to frozen ready made pizza again.

The slow cooker is your best friend when you are short on time. Throw your ingredients in when you rise in the morning, have a wonderful dinner when you get home in the evening.

How about a pressure cooker? This is a great kitchen appliance for those of you who may forget about the slow cooker but want to eat something healthy in the evening when you are tired and short on time.

Salads, a great go to, can be made up to five days in advance and kept fresh if you pack them correctly.

My favorite breakfast short cut–steel cut oats that have been soaked overnight. Rinse before cooking. They take almost no time to prepare, add some fruit, chopped nuts, ground flax, and a tablespoon of your favorite natural sweetener(for me it’s maple syrup) and you will have a nutritious start to your morning. This meal is filling enough to keep you going until lunch without feeling like you need a snack.

These are just a few of the many ways you can eat healthy when you are busy, tired, and there seems to be no time. You will enjoy the side effects of eating more nutritious food, feeling better and having more energy.

What are your favorite healthy eating time savers? Share your questions and comments below.

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