Everyone wants to prepare healthier meals, but trying new recipes or new cooking techniques every day is a lot of extra work that most busy people don't have time for. In most cases, radical changes aren't really necessary to improve the quality of your diet and enjoy the benefits of good nutrition. Making small, simple changes to your everyday meal planning and preparation can have a powerful and positive effect on your health.
Tips for Healthier Grocery Shopping
Making a few changes in the way you grocery shop will help you prepare healthier meals. Don't try to buy everything on the list during your very next shopping trip; that's too much trouble and could be a strain on your grocery budget. Instead, make a few easy additions each time you go to the store.
- Purchase leaner cuts of the kinds of meat you already eat. Beef and pork cuts that are called "round" or "loin" are typically lean. Fish and skinless chicken or turkey are other healthy choices.
- Look for cooking oils such as olive oil, canola oil or walnut oil that have "omega-3" on the label. These oils are considered heart-healthy. Also purchase nonstick cooking spray to reduce the amount of fat used when sautéing and frying and make healthier meals everyday.
- Fill your pantry with healthy basics like fat-free broth, salt-free seasoning mixes and low-fat salad dressings.
- Go brown! Choose brown rice, wholegrain pastas and breads instead of the white versions you're used to. Whole-grains provide more nutrients, satisfy your hunger and don't affect blood sugar levels the way products made from refined white-flour can.
Tips for Cooking
Follow these tips for cooking and you can prepare healthier meals for yourself and your family without spending any extra time in the kitchen. In fact, you may even save time use it to go for a walk after dinner. An after-dinner walk aids digestion and is a natural remedy for insomnia, plus it's a chance to burn off a few calories before you settle in for the evening.
- Reduce the salt in your usual recipes by half. Use fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to add an extra zing to foods that need a little boost.
- Reduce the sugar in your usual recipes by half. Your taste buds won't know the difference but your waistline will.
- Cook once, eat twice. Cut your meal preparation time in half by doubling the recipe and storing the second portion in the freezer for another night. Knowing there's something healthy and delicious waiting for you at home will keep you away from the drive-through on those extra hectic days.
- Use low-fat cooking techniques like baking, grilling, steaming and stir-frying instead of frying and sautéing. Recipes like oven-fried chicken or parchment-wrapped fish and veggies are often easier than traditional and fattier methods of cooking.
- Go meatless one day a week. All types of beans and lentils are good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals and most provide a full serving of protein. Eating legumes once a week is also good for your grocery budget.
The next time you're in the kitchen, make one healthy change to a recipe you and your family already enjoy. Getting started is the most challenging part of any new habit, but there's no excuse to put if off once you realize how easy it us to prepare healthier meals every day.