In order for a lifestyle change to be sustainable, it needs to fit (somewhat) seamlessly into your already existing routine. I remember when I first started changing my eating habits, this was not the case. All of the planning, prepping and cooking was just so much work! Luckily, I stuck with it and have devised several healthy eating hacks to make cooking real food meals an everyday reality.
Healthy Eating Hacks
- Streamlining and simplifying your kitchen will make cooking healthy meals at home much more pleasant all around! So carve out a couple of hours on a Saturday to declutter your kitchen. Take a hard look at all of the gadgets you’ve collected over the years that were intended to make meal prep faster and easier. Are they really doing that or are you just shuffling them around to get to the tools you actually need? Get rid of anything you don’t use on a regular basis, from utensils all the way up to appliances. Then, take all of the things on your counter and put them away in your new-found cabinet space. This will make it much easier to wipe up spills and messes from cooking.
- Keep your grocery list and meal plan for the week on your phone, versus posted on your fridge or written in your agenda, so you’ll always have it with you. Now you have no excuse to not stick to your list when your stop by the grocery store. Seriously, when was the last time you even went to the bathroom without your phone?!
- While we’re on the subject of meal plans, commit to making one each week! If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can do a whole month’s meal plan at once. Then, only set foot in a grocery store one time per week. Any more frequently is not an efficient use of time (in my opinion).
- When I meal prep (which I don’t do every week), I make sure to keep all meat and veggies unseasoned. This way I can make several meals by repurposing the same components by seasoning them as I go, instead of having to commit to eating some variation of Mexican-flavored chicken all week long.
- Keep a “defrost bowl” in the fridge. I learned this trick from Michelle at nomnompaleo.com and it’s super helpful! Every couple days, pull out some meat from the fridge and put it directly in the defrost bowl. That way you always have some healthy protein ready to cook.
- Always be thinking of ways to maximize your effort. For instance, if you’re chopping half an onion for one dish, why not chop the rest and store it in the fridge for another recipe? It takes much less effort to do it when you’re already set up, rather than dragging out the cutting board and knife again. This applies to entire meals too! If you’re going to prepare one meal, why not make another and freeze it to pull out on a busy day?
- Speaking of freezing, keep some frozen veggies on hand for quick stir fries. This is the perfect healthy meal for when you don’t have much time and just need to get dinner on the table stat. Simply grab some meat from your defrost bowl and brown it up in a large skillet. Rip open the bag and throw in the veggies. Stir in some tamari or coconut aminos and any other seasonings you think would be good. Serve over rice or quinoa (or don’t if you prefer a Paleo version).
- Line baking pans with parchment paper for easy clean up. This is especially wonderful when making a sheet pan meal because all you have to wash afterwards are the bowls you ate out of!
- Eating at home means that you’re going to generate dishes. Get in a routine of unloading the dishwasher every morning, loading it up as you go throughout the day, then running it at night before you go to bed. That way dishes don’t pile up in the sink and your never have to dedicate a huge chunk of time to cleaning them up.
- Always keep an emergency Rx Bar or Larabar in your bag. It’s saved me more times than I can count from running through a drive-thru when I’m hangry.
- I’m not a huge celery fan but I don’t mind it cooked in recipes. This means I don’t go through it very quickly though. To keep it from going limp, I wrap it tightly in foil. It’ll stay crisp in the fridge much longer this way.
- If your produce looks like it’s about to go bad, freeze it! There’s no point in wasting produce that you paid for. Nearly every fruit and veggie can be frozen (with the exception of lettuce). Toss them in a smoothie or the aforementioned stir-fry for a quick meal.
- Invest in quality knives and keep them sharpened. It takes more time to laboriously saw through food with a tough knife, not to mention how dangerous it is!
Hopefully these healthy eating hacks will take some of the hassle out of trying to eat whole, real foods. Good luck!
P.S.- Have you come up with any of your own healthy eating hacks over the years? Please spill your secrets! 🙂