- Food and Cooking
How to Incorporate Quick and Healthy Meals Into a Busy Lifestyle
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After working a full day, running errands, cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, and accomplishing many other tasks, who has the time or energy to cook a complicated dinner?
There are various different strategies that can be incorporated into your busy lifestyle that will immensely benefit your health as well as your appetite. Diet plays an incredible role in your health; therefore it is important to make good choices on a regular basis. Healthy eating does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. In as much time as it takes to go through a drive through at McDonalds, you can whip up a dinner that will taste just as delicious and will provide a vast amount of nutrients.
Reading this article will provide you with time-management strategies, easy cooking techniques, and delicious dinners that will hopefully make your life a whole lot easier and less stressful
The first step to incorporating healthy meals into your lifestyle is preparation and organization.
This involves planning for the coming week ahead. Taking some time during the weekend to plan what dinners you will cook during the week will save you from the stress of frequently thinking through-out the day, what am I going to make for dinner tonight? When you grocery shop it is key to think about buying a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. It is important to stock your kitchen full of vegetables, fruits, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, whole-grain foods, as well as lean meats and protein.
Taking advantage of shortcuts is a huge time-saving strategy, such as buying pre-cut produce and buying food in bulk. In addition, use your freezer as an advantage by storing the building blocks of many recipes. Some surprising helpful tips for storing foods in your freezer is measuring out lemon, lime, and orange juice, and freezing them in compartments of an ice cube tray. Also, you can cook pasta with a small amount of oil to keep it from sticking and then store it in your freezer as a quick dinner staple. When you have all the food available it will reduce the urge to order take out or stop by the drive through. Also, when you have the food at hand it will cut down on the preparation time and let you get right to the cooking. Just a few hours during the weekend can save you a lot of stress during the week.
The next step to cooking quick and healthy meals is in choosing what technique you want to use to cook your meals. The following are some cooking methods that will help you to make dinners full of nutrition. The methods that are provided allow you to keep saturated fat, prep time, and sodium to a minimal amount of time. By following the various provided techniques you can also make a variety of different meals and keep your dinners new and exciting.
The first option is grilling or broiling. The method will allow fat to drip away into your grill or boiler. It is important to trim off the fat from the poultry and meats that you are using before you start cooking them. This greatly cuts down on the amount of saturated fat you are consuming. You can make a variety of different dinners using marinades, rubs, and glazes which also provide an immense amount of flavor. A very simple and delicious dinner is to make Italian grilled chicken. This super-easy dinner can be made within 30 minutes and includes the following ingredients: olive oil, 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper, 1 thinly sliced onion, and some salt and pepper. Spray each piece of chicken with cooking spray, preferably an olive oil spray and grill each side for about 8 to 10 minutes. After the chicken is no longer pink in the middle remove it from the grill. Meanwhile you can cook the remaining ingredients in a medium sized skillet. Cook for about three minutes or until the onions and peppers are tender and spoon over the chicken. This recipe is full of flavor and also good for the heart.
The next cooking option is simple and also my favorite. The actual process for this cooking method takes hours, but takes very little prep time. This process is called slow cooking and uses a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker. This very useful piece of kitchen equipment saves you an immense amount of time. You can fill the crock pot with the recipe ingredients before you leave for work in the morning and come back to a delicious and flavorful meal. A couple of important tips when using the slow cooker is to not fill it more than two-thirds full and too keep the lid on the pot the whole time. With most slow cooker recipes it is not necessary to lift the lid and stir the ingredients. When you lift the lid of the slow cooker it greatly reduces the temperature and actually takes up to two hours to regain its previous heat. A very simple and healthy slow cooker recipe is a chicken chili. This is a hearty meal that will provide comfort and warmth to your family. It's as simple as combining one pound of boneless, skinless, chicken cubes, 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, 1/2 cup green pepper, 1/2 cup red bell pepper, 1 15oz can reduced-sodium kidney beans, 1 14.5 ounce can fat-free, low sodium chicken broth, 1 4oz can diced green chilis, 1 cup water, 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, 3 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp salt and pepper. Cook on low in the slow cooker for 5 to 7 hours and be prepared for a delicious and hearty meal.
Here are some of my favorite time-saving tips that are very helpful to use frequently.
-When you are using a cutting board place a moist and damp paper towel underneath to keep it from sliding.
-Keep your knife set sharpened and handy to make your prep work quick and easy.
-Use kitchen scissors to aid in cutting herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and basil.
-Rinse frozen vegetables in a colander under cold water for 15-20 seconds. This refreshes them and gives them a crispy taste.
-Use wide skillets to speed up cooking time and additionally keeps food moist.
-Microwave lemons and limes for 10 seconds on high to make them easier to juice.
I hope the above tips, cooking methods, and time-preparation techniques will be helpful in making quick and easy dinners. Remember planning ahead of time makes your life a whole lot easier during the week and cuts down on the urge to pick up fast food. Picking up cook books that are based solely on Slow Cooker recipes broadens your range of dinner choices. Eating smart and healthy will not only provide your family with nutritious meals but increase your metabolism and give you an immense energy surge.
I have included links to my most favorite cook books that I use time and time again, enjoy!