Healthy & Simple Meals Series: Getting Started!
I’m super excited to kick off my healthy and simple meals series! I’ve even dubbed #healthyinunder30 as my social hashtag for all the fun recipes I’ll be blogging about over the next few months. All of the meals will take roughly 30 minutes to prepare (less if you use some of my below food prep tips), and will utilize straightforward and minimally processed ingredients whenever possible. I’ve talked to many of my clients who want go-to simple meals for themselves and their family. So I’m going to help make choosing healthy eating over fast food a super easy choice. At the end of the series you will have no excuses for not eating healthy dinners at home!
What to expect in the healthy and simple meals:
- Everyday foods: All ingredients will be foods that you can find at any grocery store. I won’t promise that you’ve necessarily cooked with every single ingredient before, but you won’t have to go to a Whole Foods or specialty store to buy anything. Plus, you should always be open to trying new foods!
- Mostly whole foods: Some foods are packaged for convenience, but aren’t necessarily any less healthy than the whole foods form (like shredded carrots). I will be focusing on limiting unnecessary added sugar and additives in my recipes.
- Vegetable heavy: Half of your plate should be filled with vegetables, so I like to adjust recipes by cutting the grain portion in half and doubling up on vegetables. You still get the tasty starch, but instead of being the main ingredient, it’s now the accent ingredient.
- Some vegetarian meals: I find that having some go-to vegetarian meals can make cooking faster, and with less dishes to wash. Even if the meal isn’t vegetarian I will try to give a high-protein vegetarian alternative for the meat in a recipe.
- Crockpot meals: These technically will take longer than 30 minutes to cook, but the prep will take less than 30 minutes. Plus, you get to come home to dinner ready for you!
I will provide lots of recipes, but it’s up to you to be prepared to make them. Healthy eating starts with planning. So before you go grocery shopping you have to make a list of what you’ll need to prepare your healthy meals. You have to do this every week or you will find yourself unprepared and scrambling to make something nutritious for dinner.
Tips to spend even LESS time during the week cooking:
- Plan meals that use the same lean protein: If you’re making three meals with chicken that week, cook it all on Sunday. You can grill, bake, or use a crockpot for the meat, and then portion it into servings to be stored in the fridge and freezer for recipes later in the week.
- Consider buying pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, removing the skin, and portioning meat into bags to use in meals during the week if you didn’t get around to pre-cooking chicken.
- Individually sealed fish like salmon, cod, or tilapia are easy to add to recipes with no portioning or waste.
- If you’re a vegetarian consider making a large batch of lentils or dry beans to mix into your vegetables and grain based meals throughout the week.
- Cook 2-3 meals worth of a grain like brown rice or quinoa to save time on a few meals during the first part of the week. Repeat making a bulk grain on Wednesday or Thursday to use for the rest of the week.
- Cut up tomorrow’s veggies the night before. If you’re using bell peppers two nights in a row, cut them up together so you save a step the next night. It may take an extra 2 minutes today, but you’ll save 10 minutes tomorrow.
These are optional time savers, but ones I recommend. You can easily cut your evening cooking time in half by already having your lean protein and grain cooked. Then you simply have to prep and cook your vegetables and season the meal. A little extra time on your weekend day off can save a ton of time and energy during the work week. I would much rather cook all my chicken breasts at once than have to bust out the cutting board and the George Foreman multiple nights during the week!
I hope you’re excited for some new healthy and simple meals in under 30 minutes! Feel free to share your favorite go-to quick meals in the comments!
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I'm a registered dietitian, and I love food that tastes good and is good for you. I believe that health isn't just about choking down vegetables or dieting, but eating well and keeping nutrition simple. Welcome, and I hope you can find something here that works for you!