12 Easy Tips for Quick Healthy Meals

Be prepared for the busy week ahead – learn how to make quick healthy meals for you and your family with minimal effort using these 12 easy tips!

Week nights can be hectic and difficult to plan for. An unpredictable turn of events (say the boss asks you to stay late at work, the nanny calls in sick, after-school programs are cancelled) can change a well-thought-out plan to cook a healthy dinner into an emergency drive-thru meal. But a few simple tips (and an organized kitchen) can keep you on track even during your busiest hour – allowing you to create quick healthy meals that will help you stick to your diet.

bag of groceries with fruits and vegetables for quick healthy meals

This is a sponsored post supported by Perfect Fit Meals. Although I did receive complimentary samples for the following product, all views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and based on my own unique experiences.

 

1. Plan Ahead

If you don’t already plan out your meals for the week ahead of time, it’s time to start. Stop meal planning on your way home from work each evening and take a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday to plan what you and your family will eat for dinner for the next 5-7 nights. Check out my Meal Planning 101 tips.

And write it down. I have a dry erase board calendar on my fridge that I fill out each week with quick healthy meals. Not only does it help me remember what I am going to cook tonight and the next day, but it helps others (i.e. my husband) know what’s to come so there are no surprises or no excuses for takeout.

 

2. Stock up on Pantry Essentials

Cooking becomes stressful when you have a poorly stocked pantry. Make sure you have all of the proper pantry staples (think spices, oils, vinegars, canned tomato products, beans, etc.) stocked each week so you are ready to prepare quick healthy meals. These items generally have a long shelf life so there is no excuse to not have them readily available.

I generally keep a container (plus one backup!) of each of the following healthy pantry staples. A short supply of tomato sauce for your baked spaghetti squash is NOT an excuse to order takeout.

 

3. Improve Your Knife Skills

Do chopping garlic and onion stress you out? Don’t let these seemingly tedious tasks slow you down in the kitchen! I cannot tell you how much time has been saved in my kitchen thanks to a few skillful knife techniques I learned in one simple beginner cooking class in college.

If you can find a class to attend, great. However, don’t underestimate the power of YouTube – you can always find videos online that demonstrate proper techniques. The more you practice, the more efficient you will become in the kitchen when it comes to chopping, slicing and dicing.

Trust me when I say it – good knife skills are one of the secrets to quick healthy meals. And please, for the love of cooking, get yourself a real chef’s knife (and these Must-Have Healthy Cooking Tools). I promise it’s not as scary as it looks once you learn how to use it properly!

 

4. Consider Purchasing Time-Saving Appliances

Time-saving appliances are ones that are easy to use (less than 5 pieces or parts) and easy to clean (i.e. all or most parts are dishwasher safe).

My favorite time-saving appliances for quick healthy meals? A mini food processor (for sauces and dressings), a slow cooker (which practically does all of the work for you), a pressure cooker or Instant Pot (for cooking high-fiber whole grains quickly) and a high-speed blender (to blend purees or aid in making less common ingredients like rice flour or almond flour in a pinch). Check out my full list of Must-Have Kitchen Appliances for Healthy Cooking.

pre-chopped vegetables in meal prep containers for quick healthy meals

 

5. Do the Prep Work in Advance

After purchasing all of the ingredients needed to execute your weekly meal plan, consider doing some of the heavy lifting in advance when you have extra time on the weekend.

Can you chop fruit and veggies ahead of time? Can you load the crockpot with your weeknight meal and simply leave it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to use it? Can you make a sauce or dressing today that can be used in the next 2-3 days? Check out my Healthy Meal Prep Kitchen Essentials to help you get started!

Ask yourself what tasks, if done today, will make cooking quick healthy meals easier during the week. Not only does this tip help save time later on, but knowing you have already started the meal preparation process will encourage you to see it through to the end during the week!

 

6. Use Pre-Cut and Pre-Cooked Ingredients

Having pre-cut produce and pre-cooked proteins (think rotisserie chicken, cooked shrimp, chilled grilled chicken breast, etc.) readily available can make or break your decision to cook a quick healthy meal on a chaotic week night.

Consider buying pre-cut fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables for convenience. Or better yet, raid the supermarket salad bar for a few items in you’re really in a pinch!

Slice off a few pieces from a chilled rotisserie chicken and toss it in a soup or salad. Or use it in a stir fry or on a homemade Friday-night pizza!

 

7. Use Aluminum Foil or Parchment Paper for Easy Cleanup

Making something on a baking sheet in the oven? Line the pan with foil or parchment paper before cooking. When you’re done, toss the disposable layer and put the clean pan away. I use this trick every time I cook and cannot tell you how many hours of soaking and scrubbing it has saved me!

 

8. Consider Salad as the Main Dish

If you make a hearty salad, there’s no reason it can’t be the star of the show. For a quick healthy meal, mix hearty greens (such as kale and spinach) with a chewy whole grain (think quinoa, wheat berries, or couscous), a warm winter starchy vegetable (butternut squash, sweet potato or parsnips for example) and some nuts or seeds.

Toss it all with oil and vinegar or get creative with one of my DIY Salad Dressings. You can even toss in some of that rotisserie chicken to ensure you stay full until morning!

Try one of these: Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa & Spinach, Quinoa Apricot Arugula Salad, or Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Wheat Berry Salad with Pomegranate.

pre-chopped vegetables in meal prep containers with 12 quick healthy meal tips

 

9. Eat Breakfast for Dinner

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast! Think outside the box and use eggs in a variety of savory dinner options such as Avocado Toast with Sunny Side Egg topped with pesto of hot sauce, Huevos Rancheros Tacos with tomatoes and avocado, Shakshuka (aka Eggs in Hell), Egg Spaghetti Squash Boats or Baked Eggs in Stuffed Peppers. This complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs and cooks in minutes!

 

10. Transform Leftovers

Don’t underestimate the power of leftovers. But be sure to store them appropriately with these Must-Have Food Storage Essentials. Leftovers can be a lifesaver on a crazy day – reheat something from the night before, or breath new life into leftovers by incorporating them into a new quick healthy meal.

Save even the smallest amounts of leftover ingredients and sauces like red wine, broth, tomato sauce, pesto and gravy by pouring them into ice cube trays and freezing them. Once frozen, dump them into a freezer-friendly zip-tight bag and label for later use. These small leftover ingredients can bring life to a boring dish when you’re in a hurry to make a healthy, yet flavorful, dish.

 

11. Use the Stovetop Instead of the Oven

Anytime you can rely on the stovetop to do all of the cooking without turning on the oven, you’ll be saving time. Consider stove-top skillet meals to avoid the timely task of preheating the oven.

A tenderized, seasoned chicken breast can be grilled in a little olive oil on the stovetop in less than 10 minutes versus pre-heating the oven and allowing it to bake which may take up to 30 minutes in total.

And sautéing chopped veggies (especially starchy ones like sweet potatoes and carrots) in a skillet will take significantly less time than baking them. Try one of these easy skillet meals: Ground Turkey Potato Skillet, One Pot Wonder Stuffed Pepper Skillet or Easy Chicken Enchilada Skillet.

 

12. Have an Emergency Back Up Plan

There will be nights when all else fails and your plans go out the window. So have a few emergency backup meals on hand that you can feel good about.

Think frozen and microwaveable meals – whether it’s pulling a leftover container of soup out of the freezer, relying on the microwave to cook a baked potato, or heating up a ready-to-eat meal (like new Perfect Fit Meals).

Having a healthy plan B should be part of your long-term plan from the start! The aforementioned Perfect Fit Meals offer clean and fresh ready-to-eat, microwaveable entrées that are dietitian approved, portion-controlled and designed for busy individuals who value wholesome and healthy cooking, but may need to fall back on convenience to get them through a busy week.

Don’t sacrifice your healthy eating habits on nights when you simply don’t have time to execute your initial cooking plans.

 

More Tips for Quick Healthy Meals

 

quick healthy meals
quick healthy meals

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