Updated: Apr 7
Do you know that on average, you can spend anywhere between 6 to 9 hours a week on food-related tasks? It is anything from meal preparation and grocery shopping down to doing the dishes.
Frankly, that discourages me from cooking. My life is already packed with tasks, jobs, meetings, and responsibilities, and there is no time to stand in the kitchen for 6 to 9 hours!
But I don’t want a lack of time or the daily overwhelm to decide whether I will eat healthy meals or not. My health is my top priority, and the food I eat matters. But coming up with healthy dinner recipes is half the battle right? Now you have to find the time to cook!
So, keep on reading to find out how to have the time to cook and learn my top 3 ways to make quick healthy meals in 30 minutes!
Why Cook Quick, Easy, and Healthy Meals?
Before you jump into the strategies and get into action, you need to ask yourself why it matters to you that you eat healthy food or spend any time cooking.
After all, our grocery shops are packed with quick, easy, and convenient meals that take no time to prepare. When I am stressed, rushed, or unmotivated, standing in the kitchen and cooking is the last thing I want to do.
But I also remember that eating healthy food is the best way to ensure that my body has the energy to carry me through the day. Food is fuel, and if you don’t deliver top-quality fuel into your body, you will always feel tired and uninspired.
I know that you want to eat healthy, have energy, and nourish yourself from the inside out. And lack of time can alter this plan.
There is no mystery in having time to cook. Deciding to cook healthy meals is a choice, the same way you choose other things in life. It simply comes down to prioritizing yourself.
When you feel like you matter, you make yourself a priority. You will shift things around and find the 30 minutes to cook healthy meals.
So, pause for a moment, take a deep breath and make yourself a priority today. Done? Good. Let’s make cooking healthy dinners easy and quick!
#1 Plan Ahead
I am sure that it comes as no surprise that the first thing to eating healthy is planning. In fact, planning ahead is the number one productivity tip you need to use in all areas of your life.
Without planning, you don’t know what direction you are going, you can’t decide what you need on your trip, and you have no idea how you got there.
Now planning is not the sexiest way to improve your wellness, but it is the most effective. By planning your meals ahead, you are cutting your research time by more than half!
Coming up with healthy dinner recipes can be hard, especially after a long day at work. But wouldn’t you rather sit down once a week and get the job done? This way, you are spending less time planning what you eat, but you are also consuming less brain energy to produce a list of healthy meals for the week.
When planning a meal, keep in mind the bases of nutritional planning. Your meals need to contain all the food groups, so proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. The more vitamins and minerals you include in your meals, the healthier they will be.
So how to make it work?
First of all, find a day when it is going to be the best for you to plan meals. Find time when you won’t have any distractions or even when you can make it a little bit more fun.
I do my planning on Thursday evenings. It is a perfect time to sit down and get creative. It also gives me enough time to come up with healthy dinner recipes before the weekly shopping.
#2 Go Easy
When deciding what to eat, you need to ask yourself what is the easiest thing to cook for dinner. If you plan healthy 30-minute meals for the week, you may as well go with something easy and quick.
Only because a meal is simple, it doesn’t mean that it is not healthy or nutritious. You still need to deliver all the nutrients your body requires to function correctly.
In my kitchen, quick healthy dinner ideas contain ingredients that require minimal preparation and cooking time. Notice, I haven’t said convenience.
A star on my plate is always a vegetable, so I go for one that only requires washing, preferably no peeling, and minimal chopping. Cauliflower is a great example of this. You only need to wash it, cut it into steak-like slices, add spices and bake it for 30 minutes.
To make cooking even healthier (and easier), go for raw vegetables and fruit. Salads are a great example of it. Leafy greens are nutrient-dense and need no preparation.
Many fruits or vegetables can be eaten with their skins on. Actually, the highest concentration of nutrients and vitamins is in the skin. Apples, pears, berries, or stone fruit are easy to add to a healthy meal.
I often add grains and legumes to my meals. Millet, buckwheat, or quinoa can be cooked in under 15 minutes. They are an easy addition to salads or as a side.
Many grains are gluten-free and are a great source of complex carbohydrates. And legumes and pulses are examples of plant-based proteins.
If you are looking for something even easier, go for fermented food. It is already made for you! Fermented foods are an excellent way to heal your gut and deliver a healthy microbiome. And no preparation or cooking is required!
I remember when I was studying at University, I would eat the same meal several times a week. My favourite was falafel from a local Lebanese place.
I simply loved it; it was quick and cheap (especial with the student discount!), yet still healthy. Talking about convenience, right? Now, I’m not suggesting you go back to living like a student, but that you use the principle of re-purposing.
It means having the same meal for two nights. Coming up with quick healthy dinner ideas take a lot of effort, and I want to get the most ROI. So, I always look for healthy dinner recipes that are easy to double up.
Stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, or soups are great examples of quick healthy dinner ideas. You can mix and match the movable ingredients to make it more interesting.
For example, I like having goulash for two nights. It is a stew packed with vegetables and plant-based protein. (Traditionally, goulash is made with meat). The first night I have it with buckwheat or millet, and the second night I may have it with pasta.
This way, I reuse the stew but change the taste and texture by eating it with a different form of carbohydrates.
There is nothing wrong with cooking for two nights and re-purposing your meals, especially if you put some thought into your healthy dinner recipes.
It is true that it may take you more time to prepare the meal in the first instance. But don’t forget that you will only be reheating the meal on the second night.
How to Cook Healthy Meals in 30-Minutes
Regardless of if you are planning healthy 30-minute meals for two or for a family, you need to consciously decide that you and your loved ones are worth eating nourishing food. Food is fuel, and the better-quality fuel you put in, the more energy you will have.
To make quick and easy healthy meals, you need to plan ahead. So, pick a time when you plan your healthy meals for the week. You will cut the research time by more than half!
Go for foods that require minimal preparation or cooking time. Your best option is to go for raw vegetables and fruit or grains that cook quickly. Or even better, add fermented food to whatever meals you can!
Having the same meal for two nights? Why not? You’ve already spent the time to look for healthy dinner recipes and cooked them. You may as well re-purpose them.
Cooking quick and easy healthy meals is easier than you think. So, what are you cooking tonight?
Ready to cook delicious meals? Get your copy of my NEW e-book The wholehearted diet. Discover the power of plant-based eating, stress less, and have more energy.