Here’s some food for thought: research shows that the amount of time you spend preparing food directly affects whether or not you have a healthy diet, and cooking for yourself is an important step towards healthy living. This is great news for people who are looking to lose weight and prevent or manage chronic health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
You don’t have to become a Julia Child-level chef to enjoy the health benefits of prepping food at home, either. Your Registered Dietitian can give you great ideas on cooking for healthy living, and the internet has a wealth of awesome resources to make meal preparation easy, fun, and relaxing.
Food Prep is Good
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found people who spend time each day preparing meals for themselves are more likely to eat the good stuff that is crucial to healthy living. Researchers found that folks who cook for themselves ate a lot more fruits, veggies, and salads than others and consumed more healthful fruit juice than their peers. By contrast, people who spent the least amount of time preparing meals for themselves, as you might expect, ate a lot more fast food and other unhealthy “convenience food” than those who took some time to make home-cooked meals.
Here are some simple tips on how to plan your meals and make nutritious, awesomely delicious food in your own kitchen that will make your weight loss goals easier to attain.
Plan Those Meals
One sure-fire way to boost your healthy eating is to plan ahead. Selecting recipes ahead of time and thinking up a fun and satisfying meal plan is a great way to get yourself eating a healthier diet instead of simply trying to think up a plan on the fly when you’re starving. Also, cooking at home will save you big bucks because you won’t waste cash on overpriced convenience junk food that’s not good for your body or your wallet.
Now here’s the fun part: when you challenge yourself to cook at home, you are giving yourself an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and hone your culinary chops. There are tons of great recipes online that are delicious and healthy on sites like SkinnyTaste.com and Pinterest. Don’t forget to ask your Registered Dietitian how to count individual recipes on your meal plan, because your RD knows the ins and outs of all sorts of ingredients and can steer you toward healthy AND tasty options!
If you want a little help managing a healthy living meal plan, there are websites and apps that can simplify your day-to-day planning. For example plantoeat.com is an online menu planner and app that will even populate grocery lists for you when you enter your recipes.
One thing’s for certain, whether you write out your menu in a journal, on the back of your junk mail or enter it online, you’re taking a vital step toward a healthier life!
Batch Cooking: Saving Time While Eating Right
Another helpful tool for healthy food preparation is batch cooking. Batch cooking is a big time saver and it cuts down on total labor in the kitchen. Here’s an example: say you want some grilled chicken on your lunch salads this week. Why not throw a bunch of chicken breasts in the oven on a Sunday afternoon while watching your favorite Netflix show? Want to eat an egg every day for breakfast so you can start your day with some healthy protein? Just boil a dozen all at once when you’ve got a half hour to spare, and you’re all set!
Batch cooking isn’t limited to your oven and stove; you can also slice and dice tasty veggies and fruits and put them in separate sandwich bags during the weekend so you can just grab your daily snack on your way out the door. Is vegetable soup on the menu for this week? Great, take a little time to chop up all the ingredients and stash them in the fridge so that you’re locked and loaded when it comes time to make your soup.
Cooking for healthy living is one of the biggest lifestyle habits you can adopt in order to lose weight and stick with a delicious, healthful eating plan. So get out your pen and paper, your iPad or your smart phone and plan ahead to help the pounds fall off.