It doesn’t take any longer to eat healthy food, but it does take extra planning and time to prepare healthy meals. Amidst our busy work schedules, family responsibilities, and personal time, it is hard to imagine carving out much more time for meal preparation than is absolutely necessary. But because we are role models for our patients, family, and friends—it is necessary. 

Over the years I have come up with some time-saving tips and tools that I think you will appreciate. Time to get started!

Tip #1: Cooking Marathon

Pick one day of the week (I like Sundays) and cook up a storm.  Spend 3–5 hours making a mess and filling the house with all sorts of delightful smells. Presto, you have a one-time clean up and a fridge full of goodness.  Healthy meals are now more readily accessible than take-out. Make sure you have a lunch box with a cooling mechanism and plenty of containers. Your co-workers will be so impressed.

Tip #2: Freezer Friendly

Double the recipe and freeze half. For example, meatballs, chopped chicken breast, or parboiled veggies can be prepared and then frozen. Even frozen vegetables will do in a pinch. Tools like the Foodsaver can help preserve freshness and have a handy place for dating and labeling your food. Also, make a list of the items in the freezer so you don’t forget what you have.

Tip #3: Chop, Chop, Chopped

Fresh vegetables can take up a lot of room in the refrigerator and take time to prepare when you are hungry.  Right when you get home from shopping, wash and chop yourself a salad bar. I have two favorite choppers and if you have kids around they will be sure to help with these fun gadgets.

Tip #4: List It

Keep an ongoing list of items you need for a new recipe or that you are low on. There are several smartphone apps, but I find that a notepad and paper work just as well.

Tip #5: Cookbook Creations

Buy a new cookbook or pick up a cooking magazine. You will be inspired to try something new. The last time I did (last week), I went overboard and spent eight hours in the kitchen. Yes, you can overdo it. I suggest one or two new recipes and then stick with the standbys that you can prepare with your eyes closed.

Tip #6:  Mindful Mouthfuls

Because you are sitting down to eat anyway (at least I hope you are), put away the journal or newspaper and turn off the TV, if only for the first few bites. Be mindful of each mouthful. Gratitude can go a long way and bring us into the present moment. Savor the moment and relax.

These are just a few tips that can make a big difference.  I am sure you have some timesavers of your own.  What are your strategies?