Eating healthy is a challenge in and of itself. You have to be quite dedicated and disciplined to avoid those unhealthy foods that just taste so good. It’s even more challenging when you hate cooking because the temptation to order takeout is just that much stronger.
So how does a person manage to eat healthily and avoid spending hours in the kitchen preparing? Well, it starts by understanding what healthy eating is in the first place. The idea varies from person to person and has many cultural differences. Most experts agree that what is important is eating a balanced diet that is higher in more natural and unrefined foods compared to processed foods. Though processed foods are great for people who don’t cook, they really aren’t that healthy.
Convenience foods include ready to eat foods, microwave meals, and canned foods. They’re prepared beforehand, so they involve minimal cooking. But what makes them so unhealthy? Some of them even have vegetables right? That’s true but it’s mostly the high amounts of sugars and salts in these foods as well as their fat content. All of these things are added to make sure that the food lasts longer on the shelves and still tastes decent a few weeks or even months after production.
Fortunately, there are some convenience foods that can make up part of a healthy diet. The key is to read the labels carefully and check the sugar, sodium, and fat content. Freshly-made convenience foods are also more likely to be healthy. For example, premixed salad, chopped up frozen vegetables and canned fish are all quite healthy.
Cook in bulk
If you can set aside one or two days a week to cook, then you can cook some meals in bulk for the days when you will not be cooking. You can plan weekly meals and then cook them on your cooking day which saves the stress of deciding what to have for dinner. Just make sure to try and vary your meals and not eat the same thing every day.
Choose healthier options when dining out
Healthy eating can involve not having to cook at all. If you enjoy dining out, then all you have to do is change the kinds of food you order. Many restaurants have healthy options on their menu and you can always ask the waiter if you are unsure. A good way to tell is if the dish has different kinds of fruits and vegetables and doesn’t rely on unrefined carbohydrates like fries or pastries.
Some healthy (and easy) meal ideas
Smoothies are a great meal idea because they are quite versatile. There are thousands of smoothie recipes online that include all kinds of fruits and even some with vegetables. They are quick to make: everything just goes in the blender.
Mezzes refers to small “finger-foods” such as those which are popular in the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions. They include an assortment of easy to cook meat like meatballs and other snacks like falafel, eggplant, and halloumi cheese. Most of them are very easy to make or can be bought ready from a store (just make sure to check the labels).
Other healthy meal ideas that involve minimal cooking include:
- Mashed and seasoned avocado on rye toast
- Overnight oats
- Vegetable stir-fry
- Vegetable curry
- Frittata or quiche
- Lean meat tacos
- One-pot pasta
- Various soups including vegetable, minestrone, and butternut