Pahrump Valley Times

Divas on Dime: Can’t keep up? 10 ways to simplify healthy eating

What’s the most common household problem I hear? “I don’t have time to make healthy meals.”

That can stress you out. Families look to fast food and convenience foods just to fill tummies while sacrificing their health and wealth.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and we’re all busy; but why do some people manage, and others find the task overwhelming?

The truth is, some families do things differently. They have some tricks up their sleeves to make the most out of every minute spent in the kitchen:

They plan meals. Really. Taking 10 minutes to decide what you’re preparing will save hours each week. Plus, you’ll avoid the weariness of deciding what to cook at 6 p.m. when everyone is starving.

They shop thoughtfully. Shop once a week for your main meal components. Keep a list of items you frequently buy and check them off when you run low. Take inventory of what you already have and plan to use it. Then buy your meat and poultry, sides, veggies and dairy according to your meal plan. Remember to plan for breakfast and lunches, too. Having easy meals at the ready wins this battle.

They know what their family likes. Brainstorm a list of family favorites that are inexpensive and quick to prepare. Things like quesadillas, a favorite soup and sandwich, breakfast for dinner.

They have a backup plan. Have emergency meals in the pantry for crazy days when you just … can’t. Something as simple as high protein spaghetti and a jar of sauce or cans of soup.

They use downtime to cook ahead. This means spending a couple of hours on the weekend cooking a big roast or a couple of chickens, roasting a pan of veggies and boiling a big pot of brown rice. It takes the same 45 minutes to cook brown rice if you’re making two cups or 16 cups. If you’re not that ambitious, then just chop some veggies ahead or make a big casserole.

They’re efficient. Whatever you’re making, make a double (or quadruple!) batch. Freeze the rest and save loads of time.

They’re creative. Plan for leftovers. Rather than serving the same meal twice, switch things up. Example: serve that roast chicken sliced with veggies the first night, make chicken burritos another night then make soup with what’s left.

They use tools. Use your crockpot. To eliminate making dinner after a long day, throw ingredients in the crockpot in the morning and come home to dinner. Diva Done!

They accept help. Employ healthy convenience foods like canned beans, quick-cooking grains, frozen or pre-cut fresh veggies to get dinner on the table in a flash.

They clean as they go. Part of dinnertime dread is the cleanup. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and as dishes get dirty, put them in to soak, then wash and put away.

If “what’s for dinner?” is causing you stress, don’t be hard on yourself. Start small and know that every baby step in the right direction is an improvement. You’ve got this, Diva!

Frugal foodie fodder contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom