It’s not always easy to eat healthy, especially on a time crunch.  Here are a few tips for putting together a healthy meal in no time at all.

Be Ready

Summer BBQ Shrimp Veggie Toss 2In order to throw together a healthy meal in just a few minutes you have to have your ingredients prepped and ready to use.  Make sure you keep some key ingredients on hand all the time like frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts ; these will help you put together a complete meal without having to go to the grocery store.  If you have frozen shrimp handy you can try this easy dish.

Prepare in advance

Coming home tired Tuesday night after a long day at work and having dinner ready with just a warm up seem too good to be true?  Well with just a bit of prep work that can be your reality!  The trick is to prep several recipes at once to save time (and dishes).

While you’re cutting board and knife area already out, chop up some veggies for the week, prepare a few salads for lunches and cook a few portions of rice or quinoa. Every step you take in preparing will help in the long run later.  When you have healthy meals ready in the fridge you’re more likely to eat those than order in!

Use your freezer

Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to saving time in the kitchen. A recipe takes the same amount of time to prepare whether your make 2 portions or 8 portions.  The trick is to cook a larger portion than required and to freeze the extra so that you have a ready meal when you don’t have time to cook.  Freezing extra meals is a great tip if you’re cooking for one that way you don’t get bored of eating the same thing every day.  If you cook two recipes per week, freeze those and then alternate from your frozen meals from the week before you’ll have a delicious variety of meals without spending hours in the kitchen.

Stews and meals in a sauce freeze really well.  If you prefer to have a salad what you can do is prepare your protein source in advance (pork tenderloin, chicken breast, or curry shrimp as an example) and freeze those portions.  Defrost your protein while you’re making your salad and you’ve got a full meal in minutes! You can do the same thing for grains like quinoa, rice or orzo which freeze really well in individual portions.

One Pot Meals

Another way to save time is to make less dishes. That’s why we love one pot meals. Have you tried this one pot pasta where everything is ready in the same pot?

It’s so easy! Another way to save time is to cook your entire meal on one pan: all the ingredients are roasted on the same pan in the oven. You need about 10 minutes to chop up your veggies and protein, toss the ingredients with your seasoning and roast them about 30 minutes ( don’t forget to set an alarm).

Choose a raw recipe

Recipes that can be eaten raw come together really quickly, like a sandwich with tomatoes, chickpea salad and avocado.  Packing lots of items you can eat raw like a picnic is also a great idea.  Try some slices of cheese, hummus, veggies and pita for a delicious filling meal.

Say yes to shortcuts

Ready-made veggies, like beets that are already cooked, veggies that are precut or greens that are pre washed are great and healthy shortcuts.  They may cost a bit more than uncut versions but they will help you save time.  When saving time means cooking more at home, the price is worth it!

With the help from some of these tips and tricks, you’ll see how easy it is to make a meal in a few minutes.  Cooking at home means you’re getting loads of nutrients, you’re saving money and you’re consuming less fat/salt/sugar that you would get from your order at a restaurant.  That’s a win!

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Campus ambassador

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