Shortcuts in the kitchen for healthy eating
Preparing your own meals is good for your health. Making meals at home allows you to choose the ingredients that go into the food you eat, as well as control the portions being served. That’s why eating at home is one of the best ways to maintain a balanced diet for yourself and your family.
But healthy eating at home doesn’t have to mean hours of prep and cooking. Try some of these tips to streamline the process.
- Make extra and freeze it — if you’ve got more cut vegetables than you can use in a week, consider blanching and freezing them to use later. This works best with harder veggies that have a lower water content, such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or carrots.
- Make brown rice in batches — Brown rice is flavorful, healthy and filling, but it takes around 50 minutes to cook. To save time, make a large batch. When the rice is done, spread it out on a baking sheet to cool. Then put single or family-sized servings in sealable bags to store in the freezer.
- Pile on the pilaf — Pilaf is simply diced vegetables mixed with a small grain, such as brown rice, quinoa or whole-grain couscous. It’s a versatile and filling dish that works well with a variety of ingredients and flavors. That makes it a great dish to prepare in big batches and use throughout the week.
- Preserve your potatoes — If your menu plan includes potatoes a couple of nights during the week, you can cut them all at once and store them in containers of cold water in the refrigerator. When you need them, pat them dry, then season and cook them as you normally would.
- Precook your pasta — If you’re making pasta for dinner, make extra for later. You can store extra pasta in the refrigerator for a week or two.
- Steam while you boil — While cooking pasta, rice or potatoes, multitask by steaming vegetables at the same time. Rest a wire mesh strainer on top of the pot and put cut vegetables in it. Place the pot’s lid on top of the strainer and let the steam from the heated water do its job. You can also use this method when you’re simmering soup.
- Use canned soup as a starter kit — Low-sodium, low-fat soup can be a great base for a healthy and hearty meal. Throw in your favorite ingredients, such as cooked brown rice or whole-grain pasta, diced vegetables, and precooked lean meat.
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Craving more ideas and recipes on cooking flavorful, healthy meals at home? Pick up a copy of Cook Smart, Eat Well.