Trying to eat healthy meals can feel like a full time job. In the past, I would sit down to map out my week and be overwhelmed by the shear time commitment I felt needed to be put into healthy living. I’d shuffle things around my priority list and decide I would just have to sacrifice my social life, sleep, hobbies, or all 3 in order to keep eating well.
Something had to change.
I hit my breaking point when I realized that I didn’t want to give up any of those other things just so I could keep eating well. I had to find a way to make this work for my life. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the time it takes to make healthy meals, try giving one of these a shot!
1. Take 30 minutes to plan
Choose one time each week and try to stay consistent . I do this in my pajamas on Saturday morning. You can us a meal planning app or good old-fashioned pencil and paper. I prefer to use my daily planner so I can write the meals under each specific day of the week. Hop on Pinterest and pick some recipes! By taking a few minutes up front, you can eliminate the mental stress of the “What should I make for dinner?” dilemma. Let’s say you take 10 minutes every day to ask yourself this question after work or run through the drive through. By taking 30 minutes up front, you are saving approximately 40 min. per week.
2. Design a meal category template
This has been the biggest game-changer for me. With the hundreds of recipes at my fingertips, I used to waste hours scouring everything and being indecisive about what to make.
Let’s say you want to plan for 5 meals. Your 5 categories could look like this:
1 Pasta dish
1 Mexican meal
1 Chicken entree
Simply find one recipe for each category rather than getting distracted by all the options. It’s hard to estimate how much time this has saved me, but I’m going to (conservatively) guess that I spent an extra 30 min. each week wasting time looking for random recipes.
3. Build a Healthy Pantry and Purchase Online
This one saves time AND money. By building a list of healthy staples, you can design your meals around what you already have on hand. This cuts down on indecision, because your pantry helps guide your choices.
For example, I had some extra brown rice noodles in my pantry yesterday, so it was a no brainer for me to create a 15-min. cauliflower Alfredo sauce to add to it. Broccoli was already in my fridge, so I paired those to make a great Sunday dinner.
Ordering these staples through Amazon or Thrive Market can save bonus time by eliminating the need to run around the grocery store. All in all, I’ve saved around 40 min. each week by implementing these strategies.
4. Make Simpler Meals
I’m all for breaking out the culinary skills when friends come over or when my hubby and I are celebrating something special. During our busy weeks, however, simplicity is key.
This is the beauty of eating real food. 3 or 4 ingredients mixed together and you’re set! I rotate between a few of my favorites and stick to the recipes that I could make with my eyes closed. Find your top 5 that you can turn to when you’re cramped for time. The time I’ve saved by realizing I don’t have anyone to impress is hard to measure, but I’ll estimate 30 min. each week.
5. Prepare in Bulk
Rather than spending 30 minutes to an hour making dinner and prepping lunches each night, I choose to set aside a couple hours on Sunday to get everything together. I make big batches of salads, soups, and other simple meals.
So, crank up your favorite Pandora station or turn on Netflix and enjoy yourself! I used to spend around 40 minutes each night making meals. Now, I spend 2 on the weekend and a few minutes heating things up at night. By doing this, I easily save over 2 hours each week.
Total time saved: over 16 hours per month!
While healthy meals aren’t just going to magically appear on your table, it is possible to create a simple plan that fits around your schedule. Experiment with what helps keep this sustainable for you.
What has saved YOU time in the kitchen?