In the middle of the week, after staying late at the office for three days in a row, it can be much easier to make a stop at a fast-food restaurant on the way home than even think about cooking a healthy meal for you and your family. Surprisingly, though, cooking healthy meals can be really easy if you follow these simple tips.
Plan a Weekly Menu
The best way to keep yourself from eating pizza and takeout all week is to plan a weekly menu of foods that you will make during the week. On the weekend, take a few minutes to look through your cookbooks or search the internet for great recipes you want to try, make a grocery list, and go buy all the ingredients you'll need for the week. Keep in mind that you can save money by making several meals with the same ingredients, and this also helps to avoid wasting food. You can make burgers one night and tacos the next, for example, all while using the same ground beef and veggies. Write down your menu and tape it to the refrigerator so everyone in your family knows what you're having, and so you're held accountable for making the food you planned to make. Creatively using leftovers can also be a real time-saver and help you cook healthier meals each night.
Chop in Advance
No one wants to come home after a long day at work and stand on their feet in the kitchen, chopping vegetables. Immediately after you get home from the grocery store, chop everything you'll need for the week and store it in reusable containers. You can even organize your containers based on what meal you'll be cooking, so all you have to do is come home, take out the proper containers, and toss them in the pan.
Buy Frozen Foods
Frozen foods are a great time-saver. I'm not talking about frozen pizza or TV dinners, here. If you're trying to eat healthy, you probably want to avoid those items! However, steam-in-bag vegetables and pre-marinated meats are a great way to eat healthy without spending too much time preparing a meal. They're easy to pop in the microwave or oven right after work, and they taste great, too. Just be sure you thaw your meat before going to work so you don't have to spend time doing that when you get home.
Cook With Colors
People eat with their eyes as much as their taste buds, and part of making healthy meals appetizing is making them look good. Make it your goal with each meal to put as many colorful foods on the plate as possible. Have green and orange vegetables, white and yellow cheeses and breads, and blue and red fruits with every meal. This will not only make your plate look delicious, but it will help you get all of your key nutrients, too. It helps, also, if you divide your plate into four, putting a different piece of the meal - and of the food pyramid - in each segment. This can help ensure you get all you need to keep you going through a busy work week.
The Simpler the Better
You don't have to "master the art of French cooking" to be a great chef. When looking for recipes, a good rule of thumb to follow is the simpler the better. Recipes with five to ten ingredients are usually the best, especially for the work week. You don't need to make a Thanksgiving feast every night. Just some really good meat and veggies will do the trick.