Health And Wellness

9 Expert Tips For Making Quick, Healthy Meals In Minutes

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man and woman eating together in kitchen

There are many lifestyle issues that contribute to eating disorders, obesity, and general lack of health when it comes to food. But the saddest thing is the absolute inability or unwillingness to cook on the part of many — if not most — Americans.

Recovery begins with eating at home (i.e., cooking) by using whole foods that are organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, and naturally sweet and delicious, as well as rich in vitamins and minerals.

This may seem unattainable if cooking every night feels like a monumental task, but with a little effort, you can make quick, healthy meals that will be filling and benefit your entire family.

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Secrets for meals in minutes that are both mouth-watering and quick.

I rarely spend more than 10 minutes making my dinner, and even less time making breakfast and lunch.

There can be a lot of pushback over the idea of eating at home and cooking your own food; it can feel overwhelming. This is a problem that's common for most Americans — and not just those with disordered eating.

In general, people believe that cooking is too hard and takes too long. It seems to be a part of our culture that appears to be getting worse instead of better.

A large portion of all consumers — 90 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review — would rather not cook and half of that group hates to cook! That leaves only 10 percent of people who enjoy cooking.

So, how can you make cooking faster, more enjoyable, and easier to access? By learning some easy ways to simplify the process and make it a better option to eat at home.

Here are 9 tips for making quick, healthy meals in only 10 minutes.

1. Be prepared.

The secret to making quick meals is to have something to cook. You would be surprised how many people have nothing in their freezers but ice cream, pizza, and ice cubes.

Problem-solving meals inevitably becomes impossible when you don't have a “meal” option, but do have binge foods. These are things like cereal, pasta, and pizza, which are readily available.

In other words, you're not buying meats and fish, which can be thrown in the freezer next to some frozen vegetables.

When you shop, pick a variety of staple foods and those that will last for a bit in your pantry or freezer. This way, you can always find something healthy to make.

2. Join a bulk buying club.

If cost is an issue, try buying in bulk. But always have grass-fed, organic frozen beef, chicken, fish, and veggies available in your freezer.

3. Plan what to eat.

This will require you to thaw something out in the morning or at noon, so you're ready to throw it in the frying pan for six or seven minutes for your evening meal. You can also make enough for more than one night.

For example, instead of making one serving of baked chicken, make double. Eat one on the first night, then the second day, dice it up and use it in soup or chicken salad. Or maybe just heat up the second one for another quick meal.

Use what's available in your fridge and freezer to make your meals last. And remember, while baking the chicken may take 40 to 50 minutes, prepping it (adding spices, putting it in the oven) only takes about five.

4. Shop regularly enough to have some fresh produce on hand.

Only buy what you will eat that week.

Maybe a head of lettuce, a cucumber, an onion, a tomato, and a couple of pieces of fruit, depending upon what you have in the freezer for your main course.

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5. Buy healthy, versatile options.

Keep cottage cheese and yogurt on hand — if you can eat dairy, that is. And don't forget the hummus!

Cottage cheese makes a delicious lunch when you eat it with an orange, pineapple, or even a hard-boiled egg. You can also use it in lasagna and many other quick meals.

Yogurt is also helpful. Plain yogurt is good for your digestive tract and can be used in many dips and dressings. And in a pinch, add some fruit and oats to it for an easy breakfast or snack.

You can either buy or make hummus, too, as this is another very quick lunch option. You can eat it with crackers, on vegetables, or even as a substitute for mayo on wraps and bread.

6. Do grocery shopping and food prep on the weekends.

I buy groceries on Fridays or Saturdays after I finish work. I make my sauces and dressings on the weekends.

I keep them very simple, usually only four or five ingredients. I make enough to last at least a week. I usually make a barbecue sauce, a creamy avocado dressing, or a curry sauce.

You can also try to do meal preps for the week on Sundays if you work out of the house, which helps make sure that at least your breakfast and lunch are planned.

You'll be less likely to go for that doughnut in the office breakroom because you skipped breakfast.

7. Try to cook one big thing each weekend.

One weekend, I made chicken noodle soup that was to die for. Although it took a whole 18 minutes to throw together in the pot, it was three meals of heavenly broth on top of Miracle Noodles, a plant-based flour noodle alternative.

Another time, I made chili for the kids and grandkids. Other weekend dishes that are easy to make are meatloaf, purple cabbage salad, or an egg or chicken salad.

All of these take a little more than 10 minutes to make, and you only have to heat them up or pull them out of the refrigerator for lunch or dinner during the week. This reduces your meal prep time on weeknights when you're tired.

8. Buy a salad crisper.

Since produce is notorious for getting bought and then rotting in the drawer, invest in a salad crisper.

Prep them ahead of time, then store them. The greens will last most of the week, and you don't have to worry about them wilting or browning before you can finish the entire thing.

9. Buy steam-in-the-bag veggies.

It only takes a few minutes to fry a hamburger, fish, lamb chop, or pork chop. So while you're frying or broiling, you can microwave, steam, or boil your vegetables.

Cooking at home is much healthier, less fattening, and cheaper than buying out, even if you buy organic, healthy foods.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend more than half of their food budget — 53.8 percent — on eating out. That's not because they're eating out more; it's because it's becoming more expensive to eat out.

Clean eating is something anyone can do! But like anything else worth doing, it takes effort and planning — especially if you're trying to cut out sugary foods.

But hopefully, this makes it easier to understand the many ways of incorporating healthier food choices into your life. Try it tonight!

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Renae Norton is a psychologist and offers an alternative to inpatient treatment for severe cases of anorexia, bulimia, or a combination of the two. For more information, visit her website, Eating Disorder Pro.