Many people say that they enjoy healthy delicious meals, but don't have the time or skill to prepare them. Instead, these people find themselves eating out several times a week, having food delivered, or relying on prepackaged, processed foods.
It turns out, however, that eating healthy doesn't have to require going to great expense or engaging in time-consuming kitchen tasks. Instead, some food knowledge, a few handy tools, and a willingness to develop meal plans are all that anyone needs to develop a roster of healthy delicious meals that are affordable and easy to make for everyday dining.
Here are five rules for learning how to cook delicious meals for busy lives:
Create weekly meal plans
One reason why people may eat unhealthy meals is that they haven't planned what they are going to eat for the day. This means that people often don't think about what they are going to eat until they are hungry. By that point, they may not have a lot of time, or the ingredients, to prepare a meal.
Taking an hour or two once a week to search for recipes, plan meals, and then shop for groceries ensures that meal preparation isn't a hassle. There are many sites online that offer recipes that can be used to develop delicious meals for busy lives.
Keep a stocked pantry
In addition to shopping for fresh groceries every week based on a meal plan, home cooks should stock their pantries, refrigerators, and freezers) with staples that make it easy to cook healthy delicious meals without having to run to the store every time they find a new and interesting recipe online.
Pantry staples will vary between households but generally include ingredients such as seasonings(herbs and spices), garlic, onion, lemon juice, condiments such as hot sauce and mustard, flour (baking, breading, thickening agent), vinegars, and oils (for cooking as well as making salad dressings). Other staples might include pasta, dried beans and lentils.
A word about canned and frozen goods: Contrary to what many people think, there are some canned foods that are not only healthy, but that also serve as the basis for many healthy delicious meals.
Canned beans, for example, take minimal time to prepare and are rich in protein and fiber. Many professional cooks also swear by canned tomatoes, noting that using them requires much less preparation time and that a canned tomato is often much better than an underripe, flavorless commercial tomato.
Base food plans on vegetables
Vegetables are often the basis of many healthy delicious meals. Buying vegetables in season is not only cost-effective (the prices are lower), but allows home cooks to enjoy produce when it tastes best.
Meal planners know to check grocery store websites and sale flyers to determine what vegetables are on sale in a given week: Using that information, these home cooks can plan a week's worth of meals around fresh, delicious vegetables.
Prep ingredients ahead of time
One trick that many busy people use is prepping ingredients ahead of time and then adding prepped ingredients to a recipe. For example, someone who shops for green beans, bell pepper, and asparagus because they are on sale might prep the ingredients as soon as they are brought home.
Using a chef knife, the home cook trims and slices the veggies before steaming them.
These par-cooked vegetables are then placed in containers and covered with airtight silicone lids. They are ready to be added to omelets, scrambles, stir-fries, or salads throughout the week.
Use high-flavor ingredients
Many people want to cut unnecessary fats and sugars from their healthy meals. Unfortunately, they go back to their old, unhealthy eating habits because they find their meals bland and boring.
In addition to using fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices in cooking, there are other high flavor ingredients that can be added to meals to make them tastier and more interesting.
Using a microplane grater, cooks can add citrus zest to dressings, egg dishes, and stir fries. Another option is to grate high-quality Parmesan cheese onto dishes: Not a lot is needed, which keeps calories down, but the extra flavor is unmistakable.
Eating a healthy diet doesn't have to be difficult. Setting out to create healthy delicious meals just requires a change in attitude and a willingness to commit to meal planning and lifestyle change.