One of the quickest ways to become healthy, lose a few pounds, and save a few bucks is to cook at home (and, no, this does not mean microwaving a frozen dinner). Making meals at home doesn't need to be complicated or take-consuming; you can seriously cook delicious, healthy dishes in 30 minutes or less. Here's how:
Make 30-minute meals. Purchase a 30-minute meal cookbook. Rachael Ray's series is a great place to start but there are many others on the market. You'll have a tasty selection of 30-minute meals at your fingertips as you plan your evening -- or, better yet, weekly -- meals.
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Plan your meals. Every Sunday morning (or before you do your grocery shopping), determine the recipes you will be making and the ingredients you will need. Write them down then head for the supermarket. Make dishes that will use similar ingredients so you can purchase fewer items and reduce waste. For example, on Monday make grilled chicken with sautéed tomatoes and olives then, on Tuesday, reinvent the remaining ingredients into a puttanesca (pasta with tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies).
Aim for three meals a week. If you aren't used to cooking at home, it may take some adjusting, but once you get into this healthy habit, it will quickly become a welcome part of your cooking routine. To start, strive to make meals at home three to four nights a week.
Shopping at your local farmers market or joining a CSA is a healthy move for you, the environment and your local farmers. Visit www.localharvest.org for information on the farmers market or CSA nearest you. Taking a walk through your local farmers market is a fun way to get some exercise (and great food). Joining a CSA will get you fresh organic produce shipped directly to your door or to a convenient venue for pick up. It's never been easier to eat healthy and organic. You can build your nightly meals around the foods that are in season -- the fresh produce you find at the farmers market or in your weekly CSA selection.
Instead of giving something up, allow yourself a weekly treat. Whether it be a glass of organic wine on Friday nights, a piece of fair trade chocolate during a crazy afternoon at work, or a grass-fed beef steak once a week, the occasional indulgence is good for your soul. It will also keep you motivated to eat healthy, balanced meals because you won't feel deprived. Factor your occasional indulgences into your weekly calorie intake and you can enjoy even more guilt-free.
Getting your whole family to eat healthy can be a feat, especially if your kids are picky eaters. To help your kids expand their palates, include them in the meal preparing process. As you plan your meals, ask your kids for dinner ideas and be sure to value their input. Take them grocery shopping (didn't you like shopping with your mom when you were young?) and let them pick out a few foods. Involve your kids during dinner prep -- safe tasks such as mixing the sauce or pouring ingredients into a bowl -- and they will be more likely to willingly sit down and eat.
Instead of the same old menu of weekly meals, cook an interesting dish once a week.
Easy ways to mix up your meals include:
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