There’s only 24 hours in a day – sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But when you have a list of things to get done, it’s easy to see those hours slip away from you.
Whether it’s because you’re a parent, working full-time, or facing time-consuming tasks like running errands without a car, you’re going to find yourself wondering where the time went.
Additionally, you might find yourself finally at home with 30 minutes to spare, grimacing through a Pinterest board or cookbook with recipes that require way too many ingredients, way too many steps, and several hours of cook time.
Those recipes are not for me. And not for a lot of us.
This is why many of us who are pressed for time, may reach for a high-caloric, unhealthy food option. These options may include fast-food, junk food, or frozen dinners that are severely lacking in much-needed nutrients. Or, we may frantically try to figure out how to cut corners with only two-thirds of the ingredients and a couple of minutes to spare.
Time poverty, described as not having discretionary time, is a real issue for many Americans. When we don’t have enough time, we think of ways to save time. For example, cutting corners and making choices we think are better – whether that’s picking up a can of soup rather than making it ourselves, or skipping on a morning run to get a few more minutes of snoozes in.
Although financial challenges are often mentioned on this blog, time- poverty places more constraints than money, in following nutritious plans, according to a study. What do you do when you just don’t have the time to cook? Probably just grab something hearty and cheap on the way back home.
Good news, there are ways to sufficiently feed yourself and your family without the long-winded, tedious recipes.
Transitioning to a plant-based or healthy diet can feel intimidating, because it’s sometimes portrayed to be this time-consuming thing. I’ve seen it myself: “simple” recipes that are god-awful long and complicated. Or cooking videos that portray themselves to be really easy, but when you get to the nitty-gritty, you have to chop, peel, wash, crush, soak, and wait for way too many hours.
Did you know that recipes can be tweaked, changed, and experimented with? This means that you can try different healthy foods, without feeling locked in by a particular recipe. Additionally, you can start jotting down what works and what doesn’t during your time-saving experiments.
Think about food and cooking a bit differently. It doesn’t have to be perfect. For example, for stews, you don’t have to chopped your onions in perfect ¼-inch dimensions, or spend time carefully peeling a garlic bulb. Yes, it’s okay to have chunkier-than-that-recipe stew and it’s okay to shimmy the garlic powder right into your pot.
Additionally, you don’t need to painstakingly peel a basket of potatoes for a recipe – keep them on. They taste great, you’ll reduce food waste, and they add a nutritional boost to your dishes (did you know that potato skins contain potassium, iron, and niacin?)
Yes, you can cut corners and still eat healthy. It’s about what corners your cutting that matters. Below are three ways that help with eating healthy while facing time constraints:
Other ways you can utilize your time wisely is by meal prepping for the week. This can either be whole meals, or you can have cooked rice, stews, beans on stand-by. That way, you can focus on making one part of the meal, rather than several different parts of it on a given day.
My favorite dish to whip up when I don’t have a lot of time, but still want to make a healthy meal, is to throw together a stew. You can throw in any vegetable you have around, tomato sauce, and your favorite seasonings. You can usually get that cooked up in less that 30 minutes. Or, if your a vegetable stock person, you can throw that in too.
Likewise, I usually have a pot of rice already made, which I just take out from the fridge whenever I am ready to use it.
Another food prep idea is to make a large batch of veggie burgers that you can throw into the freezer to cook at a later time.
Write A Grocery List
The first step to meal prepping is making sure you’re getting everything you need for the week. Go to the grocery store with an action plan. Think about what you want to make for every meal. You can also make a slight variety of them if you get sick of lentil stew by day 3. Besides, if you’re wandering around the grocery aisles aimlessly, you’re wasting time and potentially the food, once they end up hanging out and rotting in your home.
Buy Canned or Frozen
Sure, we would all love to stock our fridges and pantries with organic, fresh produce. However, we can only hope to do the best we can do for ourselves and our families. Additionally, a great thing about frozen or canned foods like beans, corn, or mixed vegetables is that they cook relatively quickly.
You don’t need to treat frozen vegetables as you would raw, fresh vegetables. For instance, frozen corn can run under cold water to defrost – then you can throw them into a last-minute stew, salad, rice bowl, or whatever else your stomach fancies.
Usually, I will buy canned beans, although they are a bit more expensive than dry. Sometimes I don’t have the time to have them hanging out in a soak, when all I want to do is cook a last-minute, really quick meal before I need to rush out to do the next thing. Or, sometimes I’ll just pop the can open, drain the liquid, and throw the beans in a lively salad.
Time-poverty will always be a tough challenge to tackle, but we can make eating healthy a little easier by figuring out our best, healthiest options, and going into plant-based eating with a plan – one day at a time.
Looking for a quick breakfast recipe that’ll take you less than ten minutes to make? Check out our last blog post: Easy Breakfast Toast With Mushrooms.