We get it... We get how challenging it can be running a household and trying to prepare healthy meals for your family breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention snacks. We’re all human, so it’s hard to get it right 24/7. But here are some tips and tricks that can make it just a bit easier to keep “healthy” nutrition a priority amidst a busy schedule.
Here are 8 healthy cooking hacks for busy parents
- Create a cooking plan. Planning can be as simple as writing a grocery list or taking 30 minutes on a Sunday night to think about how the week is going to unfold. If everyone is running around to practice on Tuesday, then that’s not the evening for an elaborate dinner. A quick bowl of tortellini, an easy-to-cook frozen meal or a grilled cheese might be your best bet. Getting a sense of how meals will fit in the week ahead can help to eliminate stressful cooking.
- Chop your fruits & veggies all at once. If you have a spare moment on a weekend start chopping. Chopping vegetables for meals can take time. So chop your garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots or seed those pomegranates ahead of time. And while you’re wash and prep some veggies for quick on the go snacks, think baby carrots, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, cucumber, cauliflower or broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
- Befriend roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables are super easy to make and can be served hot with dinner or stored in the fridge for the next meal. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, beets and squash are all easy to roast and rich in nutrients. Just place in a baking dish, splash with olive oil and salt and bake them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 20 minutes or until they’re tender.
- Eat dinner without the entrée. Tired of making dinner? Serve up a bunch of appetizers instead. Try: A variety of cheese slices with crackers or baguette; deli meat slices, including prosciutto, ham, turkey and salami; pre-cooked shrimp; olives; mixed nuts; dried fruit; sliced fruits and veggies. For fun: Using mini kabob sticks, place a chunk of cheese, a piece of black forest ham or smoked turkey rolled into a bite-size piece, and a cherry tomato on the skewer and repeat.
- Cook quinoa instead of rice. Cooking short grain brown rice takes approximately 50 minutes. Quinoa takes roughly 15 minutes. The bonus? Quinoa is gluten-free and one of the best complete proteins out there and goes well with pretty much everything.
- Make snacks that provide real energy. The key to a good snack is to mix a complex carbohydrate with a protein. Carbohydrates on their own give you a quick boost followed by a crash. When you add protein, it helps to sustain the energy released from the carbohydrates over a longer period of time. Try a banana with nut butter. Or in a bowl, mix peanut butter, honey, rolled oats and flax seeds. Using a paring knife, remove the core of the apple. Stuff the hole with the peanut butter mixture, then cut the apples cross-wise into rings.
- Add everything to a smoothie. When in doubt make a smoothie. You can load nutrition into a smoothie but still make it taste good. Try adding: Almond milk, Kefir, 1 banana, frozen berries, a handful of spinach, and a tablespoon of chia seeds. Throw in a Tespo multivitamin shot to cover your bases. Here's the recipe.
- Cook food that lasts — like pasta. If your week is going to be busy cook pasta on the weekend and store it in airtight container in the fridge. When you need it, boil more water and reheat the precooked pasta for about two minutes. Serve the pasta for dinner or throw it into thermoses for lunch. You can also make chicken or ground beef ahead of time to serve with the pasta.
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