Does the thought of having to spend hours preparing food in the kitchen put you off making healthy meals for yourself and your family?
It’s a concern I hear from a lot of people, but by adopting a few habits and getting into a routine you don’t have to spend hours creating delicious, simple, healthy food.
Although meal planning might sound time-consuming and tedious it can actually save you time. By spending a few minutes each week planning what you’re going to eat you can save yourself a lot of time daily.
Deciding what to make and checking if you have the right ingredients is not only time-consuming but can be stressful too.
I went into a lot more detail about how to meal plan in my article Meal Planning Can Transform Your Life: Here’s How.
Start with what you know
If you want to increase the number of homemade meals you have, one way to make this easier for yourself is by starting with your familiar favorites.
This can work whether you’re just wanting to increase the number of plant-based meals you have or you’re looking to eat a more whole-food plant-based vegan diet.
How can this work?
Let’s take chili con carne for example – a favorite in many families. This can easily be made vegan by swapping the meat or processed vegan mince for kidney beans.
Something like my black bean chili recipe is a great option because it’s really tasty and satisfying and appeals to meat-eaters as well as vegans wanting to eat more whole foods. Eating the same meal means less prep and clearing up too!
Another familiar favorite is curry. There are so many delicious vegan recipes now, so you don’t have to resort to takeaways, or ready meals, which are often very high in oil and salt.
If you’re a soup fan there are lots of vegan recipes to choose from or ones that could very easily be made vegan by using vegetable stock.
To make soups satisfying it’s a good idea to add something like lentils, chickpeas, or beans – for an extra protein and fiber boost.
By making your own soup you’ll be consuming a lot less salt. The same can be said for making your own burgers too.
Don’t overlook salads
Salads are often overlooked as a great meal option and thought of as just a side or something to add to a sandwich.
But it’s so easy to make a filling salad that takes minutes to make. Ingredients such as pouches of grains and tins of lentils, chickpeas, or beans are ideal to add to salad leaves and tomatoes.
Many shop-bought salad dressings are high in oil so you might want to consider making your own. You can use ingredients such as balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, and herbs to make tasty, healthy dressing.
Batch cooking doesn’t have to mean spending hours prepping your food at the weekend.
If you have fridge and freezer space, make life easier for yourself and cook more portions than you need of meals that can be refrigerated or frozen.
Don’t overcomplicate it
Focus on eating a minimum of five portions of fruit and veg a day, but more if you can.
Eat a wide variety of good sources of protein such as tempeh, tofu, lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and whole grains such as quinoa, millet, and amaranth.
Don’t forget to drink enough water too! This is so commonly overlooked but such a simple thing to do and can make a huge difference to your health. There are lots of no sugar options now if you don’t like the taste of water.
What are you going to start with?
When making any changes in your life it’s important to not get overwhelmed. One way to avoid this is by doing one thing at a time and giving yourself time to embed the changes in your life so they become a habit.
You might decide you’re going to plan a few meals each week, or you’re going to start making your own ‘Friday night curry’.
I hope this has given you a few ideas and helped you to see that eating healthily can be fuss-free and enjoyable.