When people learn I am a nutrition coach, one of the first things they often say to me is “Oh, I wish I had more time to eat healthy food, but I’m just too busy to cook.” I get it. I really do. I was a trial attorney for twenty years, a partner in my own law firm for the last nine of those years, and have two children who cannot seem to eat enough. I did takeout and junk for years, until I realized one really basic thing: I needed to keep it simple. For the last few years, dinners in our house have been healthier, faster, and easier as a result of making these five “Keep It Simple, Stupid” changes:
- Find your shortcuts. For us, it’s an electric grill with removable plates, a rice cooker, and an air fryer that turns out the most unbelievably moist chicken ever. Each of these prepare foods quickly, with a minimum of advance preparation, and little clean up involved.
- Do a large grocery shopping once a week for protein and basic vegetables. Chicken breasts, pork loin, salad mix, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus almost always make it into our basket.
- Stock your pantry and freezer. We always have rice, potatoes, frozen vegetables, and frozen fish in the house. We get them at a local discount club in very large quantities, so we only need to stock up on them once a month. If we haven’t gotten to the store lately, we pull out a few filets of fish in the morning and put them in the refrigerator, then cook them that night along with some rice and frozen vegetables.
- Invest in spices and vinegars. Those plain chicken breasts will taste very different if you use orange ginger spices on them rather than garlic and herb, and champagne vinegar and balsamic are worlds apart in flavor profile, making that same salad taste quite a bit different.
- Cook a little bit more than you need to cook each time you do. We commonly eat about a pound of meat at dinner, but I will usually prepare two pounds. That second pound becomes lunches for several days or dinner when we are really slammed with activities.
Using these tips, we generally manage to make active meal preparation and clean-up take less than half an hour total per night. While the air fryer or grill, rice cooker and oven are working away at cooking and roasting stuff, we are able to catch up on other things around the house or finish those final few work emails before we sit down to dinner. By keeping it simple, we improve our nutrition and reduce our stress levels. So remember, when you need to work on your nutrition, just look to KISS!