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Healthy Cooking: Plan Ahead for Success

Vegetables

Have you ever thought, “I want to eat healthier food, but I don’t have time or energy to cook.” ? I certainly have. However, preparing healthy meals doesn’t have to be time consuming. Most of us know that successful weight loss doesn’t happen magically. Like most good things, weight loss is hard work. The good news is that planning ahead can make your load lighter.

A little planning goes a long way.

Planning meals in advance can save time, money, and help with successful, long-term weight loss. Chopping is one of the most labor intensive and time consuming parts of cooking, and I am usually tired by supper time. Chopping isn’t going to happen. So, I pre-chop and freeze several key ingredients. Here are some things I do:

When I buy celery, I usually don’t need the whole bunch. But, instead of letting it sit in my crisper for eternity, I chop the rest and freeze it.

I buy in bulk and freeze to keep food on hand. When it is on sale, I may buy up to 10 lbs of chicken breasts at a time. That is a lot of chicken for just my husband and I. So, into the freezer it goes. Before I freeze them, I cut some into bite-sized pieces and leave others serving-sized. They are ready to go when I need them.

When I am chopping an onion, I chop the whole thing and store the extra in the freezer. I do the same with carrots and bell peppers.

Tip: When I buy food for the freezer, I prep and freeze it the same day, instead of the often mythical time of “later”. Often, I play music, and it can be very relaxing.

Here here is a list of some items that I pre-chop and keep in the freezer.

  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Bell Pepper
  • Cooked ham
  • Chicken breast—either cooked, or raw
  • Pulled pork

What do I cook?

Red Beans: With the onion, celery, bell pepper, and meat already chopped and in the freezer, I throw them in a crock with beans and creole seasoning in the morning. This takes 15 minutes, max, and supper is waiting when I get home.

Chicken and wild rice soup: Combine carrots, onion, and celery with pre-chopped chicken. Add wild rice. It takes only 5 minutes prep time. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, and voila! Supper is done.

Another tip: Bite-sized pieces of chicken breasts take only 15-20 minutes to cook in the broiler. I add my favorite seasonings, e.g., creole, taco, etc., for a quick meal. You are only limited by your imagination.

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