A balanced diet is one of the first steps towards a healthy life, which is why it’s important to make your meals nutritious and as low-calorie as possible. Most people are aware of this, but the problem is the general lack of time. Our schedules are overloaded with various daily tasks and it can sometimes seem impossible to prepare a home-cooked meal every single day. However, if you think ahead and stay organized, it can be done. Here’s how.
Buy your groceries wisely
If you can only go shopping once a week, make it count. Create a grocery list and visit your local farmers’ market or supermarket to buy everything you’ll need to have three main meals and two snacks every day. Of course, to do this, you should also create a menu for every day of the week and know which ingredients and meals can hold until next week, and which have to be consumed in a few days, as well as how to store them all.
There are many ways to prepare eggs, most of which require very little time or skill. You can hard-boil them and store them in your fridge all week long, adding them to any salad or having them with a piece of toast for breakfast. The trick is not to remove the shell and to keep them in the carton they were bought in, to protect them from the smells and flavors of other things in your fridge. Other ways to prepare them include frittatas, egg-muffins and various omelets.
The amount of time you can keep vegetables fresh in the fridge vary greatly. For example, you should use your corn and asparagus within two or three days, while mushrooms can stay in your fridge for a week, carrots for two and beets for three. If you don’t think you’ll use your vegetables before they expire, wash them, chop them and freeze them. It’s best to store them in a quality Bosch refrigerator, which cools and freezes the newly added food more quickly, with a system that prevents the mixing of smells and flavors.
Fruit is a nice addition to your oatmeal in the morning, or a wonderful snack in the afternoon. Some fruit is more sensitive than other, so eat your cherries and grapes first and then your apricots, pears, bananas and apples. Be careful with your berries, since they can go bad very quickly, so wash them, remove any moldy ones, dry them well and put them in the freezer. This way you can use them for ice-cold smoothies and fruit salads for months.
If you’re buying meat, the healthiest option is lean protein, such as chicken or turkey breast. Other options you can choose from are lean pork, beef or ground meat. It’s exactly the protein which makes meat a great base for your meals. Bear in mind that fresh poultry and ground beef can only stay in the fridge for one or two days, while red meat can last for up to five days. However, if you cook it, all meat can stay in the fridge for about four, or even five days.
When you buy fresh seafood, you can store it in the fridge for up to two days fresh, or prepare it and keep it refrigerated for no longer than four days. On the other hand, when frozen, they can be used for months. Just thaw them properly and cook them to your liking. With its omega-3 fatty acids and an abundance of vitamins and minerals, you can combine seafood with vegetables and whole grains and have a healthy meal any day of the week.
Don’t underestimate the importance of healthy snacks. If you get too hungry between meals, you might eat too much, or even worse, reach for the unhealthy fast food, chips or candy bars. Make sure you always have some almonds or walnuts nearby to keep hunger at bay. Also, roasted chestnuts are a good option, since they’re the only nuts with vitamin C. If nuts aren’t your thing, have some fruit, a graham cracker or two, or nibble at a carrot.
The key to healthy eating is good planning and thorough preparation. Make it your responsibility to fill your cupboards, fridge and pantry with fresh and healthy foods to keep your energy levels up, while keeping your weight, cholesterol and blood sugar in order. And even if you only have one afternoon a week to spend in the kitchen, make the best of it by making several different dishes and storing them in your fridge or freezer for a whole week of nice, home-cooked meals.