Nutrition Month 2014: Healthy in a hurry

If you haven’t yet, please check out my initial post on Nutrition Month 2014 found here: to give you some background information or visit

Contrary to popular belief, healthy cooking does not need to take a lot of time or effort. There are many different tips and tricks that can help to make your life so much easier when it comes to healthy eating, all it takes is a little bit of time and preparation. Here are some helpful ideas to help simplify weekday cooking and avoid needing to turn to takeout!

1.      Prepare ingredients in advance- Having ingredients ready to go helps to make meals much easier to pull together in a snap on busy nights.

  • Take some time on the weekend to peel, wash and chop vegetables for the next couple of dinners and to have them easy to pack for lunches throughout the week.
  • Cook a large pot of whole grain brown rice, quinoa, barley or pasta so that it is ready to reheat when you need it.
  • Marinate meat and freeze in smaller portions to be able to defrost quickly when you need it.
  • Grate cheese, gather spices and measure out dry ingredients for dinner recipes the night before.

2.      Use healthier convenience foods to help you make a tasty meal in minutes. Choose items that are lower in sodium, fat and sugar such as:

  • Tuna or salmon canned in water
  • Light shredded cheese
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables
  • No-salt canned diced tomatoes
  • Pre-cut squash
  • Low-salt canned legumes (such as kidney beans, lentils chickpeas)
  • Frozen portioned fish fillets
  • Whole grain pizza crusts
  • Quick-cooking brown rice

3.      Cook once, eat twice. Plan to have leftovers when cooking and use extras to make a completely different meal!

  • Grill extra meat or fish to use on sandwiches for lunch
  • Roast extra vegetables to add to pasta or salads
  • Use extra pasta to make a cold pasta salad for lunch
  • Make extra salad at supper time to bring for lunch
  • Cook extra chili and use to make enchiladas for supper

4.      Get serious about batch cooking

  • Cook up large batches of soups, chilis, and casseroles and freeze in smaller portions to have readily available to defrost when you are short on time
  • Hard boil eggs to have ready to have as a healthy snack, make egg salad. sandwiches or add to spinach salad.
  • Make your own (much healthier) frozen dinners. If you have leftovers from a large meal such as a turkey dinner or roast beef, freeze containers with meat, potatoes and veggies to have ready to pull out and reheat in a flash.
  • Cook up a large batch of homemade pasta sauce to freeze in smaller portions to have a delicious pasta dinner in no time.

5.      Be efficient with your time

  • While cooking dinner prepare lunches for the next day at the same time to avoid needing to make them in the morning when you are in a rush to get out the door and avoid needing to get take out for lunch the next day.

6.      Make extra breakfast on the weekend to make weekday breakfasts a no-brainer

  • Freeze or refrigerate whole grain pancakes and reheat in the toaster or microwave and top with peanut butter and banana slices.
  • Make a big pot of oatmeal and freeze or refrigerate single portions to reheat with a handful of berries and almonds.
  • A vegetable frittata keeps well in the refrigerator and is delicious served hot or cold throughout the week.

7.      Make a simple meal with 6 ingredients or less. Healthy meals do not need to be complicated and you can pull together healthy meals in less time than it takes to order takeout!

  • Make a sandwich for supper! The combinations between two slices of whole grain bread are endless, fill your sandwich with fresh meats, cheese, hummus, veggies, avocado and serve with a side salad for a quick and filling meal.
  • Quesadillas made with whole grain tortillas, black beans, diced sweet pepper, salsa and Montery Jack cheese.
  • Shrimp or chicken sautéed with garlic, ginger, hot pepper flakes and mixed vegetables served over whole grain brown rice.
  • Whole grain pita pizzas topped with pizza sauce, light mozzarella cheese, spinach, mushrooms, diced peppers and mushrooms.
  • Microwave a yam for 3min and top with black beans, diced peppers, green onion, cilantro and salsa and serve with a slice of whole grain toast.
  • Make a cheesy frittata with eggs, spinach, red onion, bell pepper, milk and cheddar cheese


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