Your life is busy and your time is precious. It can be so tempting to go and pick up a pizza or head to a drive-thru for a fast meal, but you could spend the time it takes to do those things making a super fast and healthy meal at home. Healthy cooking can be incredibly time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Our four tips to get dinner on the table in a flash help you minimize the amount of time required to cook dinner while maximizing the health benefits of your meals.
Visit the Salad Bar
Your local grocery store’s salad bar is a great place to visit, but perhaps not for the reason you’re thinking. Sure, you can grab a quick meal to go, but we have another idea in mind. Chopping, peeling and dicing vegetables can be super time consuming and you may not need the equivalent of an entire bell pepper or head of broccoli. To save time, and money on wasted produce, head to the salad bar. Select what you need, diced onions, radish slices, shredded carrots and take that home so your fruit or veggies are completely ready to cook when you arrive home.
Stock Up on Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
It’s always a good idea to have some frozen vegetables on hand for quick, healthy meals. Perhaps the greatest benefit of frozen vegetables, besides the fact that you don’t have to spend time peeling, chopping or dicing, is the variety they offer. Rather than just having steamed broccoli, you can buy a bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower, or peas with carrots as opposed to one or the other. There are also great blends of vegetables that can help you throw together a meal that is super healthy and tastes like it took hours. Look for frozen vegetables labeled like “stir fry blend” or “soup blend” to get all kinds of vegetables without having to take up tons of freezer space. Frozen berries and other fruits are perfect for an after dinner (or breakfast) smoothie and eliminate the need to add ice to the other ingredients.
Use Your Microwave
Nearly every home has a microwave that is used to reheat last night’s leftovers or to make a fast bowl of soup. However, you can use the microwave to your advantage and help get dinner out quickly. One of the greatest ways to use the microwave is as a speedier way to prepare veggies for a side dish. Food companies now make plenty of “steam in a bag” veggie options that let you fresh vegetables in a flash. Grab a bag of green beans or cauliflower and put them in the microwave for anywhere from two to three minutes. The rawer a vegetable is, the more nutrients there are so be sure not to microwave vegetables until they’re mushy. You can also make fast baked regular or sweet potatoes. While using a traditional oven can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, using your microwave cuts the time in half with the average time being about 20 minutes for baked potatoes.
Buy a Whole Chicken
No, seriously. Many grocery stores offer either fried chicken pieces of an entire rotisserie chicken and the latter can be a super time saver for meals. Remove the skin before using the chicken to keep things healthier and dice/cut up what you need for your meal. Shred a few strips of chicken off, grab a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables and you’ve got a homemade, healthy stir fry in a fraction of the time that it would take to cook the diced vegetables and raw chicken, then cook the chicken and finally to add the veggies and let them cook.
Another way to get a healthy dinner done in a flash is to spend time on the weekends preparing everything you’ll need for a meal and then sticking it in the fridge or freezer. For instance, cut and cook your chicken strips and slice up some peppers, onions, carrots and broccoli while the chicken cools. Place all of your ingredients into a plastic bag and pop in the freezer. Take out when you’re ready to make dinner sometime later in the week. Cooking healthy may seem overwhelming, but there are some easy shortcuts that make it less daunting and still delicious.