Wednesday, August 21, 2013

4 Ways to Make Time to Cook

If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your diet, skip the restaurants and eat at home.

While dining out is easier than cooking, it’s also more expensive and takes away your control over what and how much goes into your food.

Here’s how you can make time for cooking, even with a packed schedule.

1. Choose Fast and Easy Recipes

Keep a list of recipes that you can turn to during busy times.

Where to Find Recipes 

For recipes and menus, Jennifer Turesky, a Registered Dietitian at Sisters Hospital, recommends and

Also check out the No Time to Cook? App from Real Simple. It has over 850 quick and easy recipes and a built-in timer to keep you on schedule while you cook.

What to Look For

Choose recipes with:
  • 500- 600 mg or less of sodium per meal 
  • zero trans fat
  • no partially hydrogenated oils

Sample Recipes

When you’re pressed for time, don’t overlook eggs. “They’re quick, inexpensive and a great source of protein and nutrients,” said Turesky.

Also try:

2. Cook Meals in Advance

If you don’t have time to cook during the week, Turesky recommends preparing larger portions on weekends or days off. Freeze them for later use.

If your days off are packed, try waking up at an hour earlier or skip the evening TV.

3. Keep Your Freezer Stocked

Always keep frozen fish on hand. “Take it out the night before, and it will be ready to cook on the grill, stove top or in the oven for dinner.”

Other foods that can be frozen:
  • Pizza crust – Once thawed, top with sauce, grated part-skim mozzarella cheese and pre-cut vegetables
  • Taco meat
  • Meatballs
  • Hamburgers
  • Turkey burgers 
  • Meat loaf 
  • Chili
  • Salmon burgers
“I encourage lean meat, ground sirloin or 90-95% lean ground beef, and 99% lean ground turkey,” said Turesky.

Add a vegetable or salad to any of the meals above for a balanced dinner. For dessert, opt for fruit.

“If you need to have starch with dinner, try instant brown rice, or microwave a sweet potato. It’s quick, easy and nutritious.”

Don’t let leftovers go to waste. “Freeze your leftovers and save for them the next week or two weeks,” said Turesky.

4. Use a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

Let the crock pot do the work for you and come home to a warm meal. Recipes to try:
Slow cooker recipes can be high in sodium, so remember to look for those with 600 mg or less.

If you need assistance with eating healthy, Jennifer provides nutrition counseling at Sisters Hospital in Buffalo and leads a 12-week LIFESTEPS© program to help adults change their eating and physical activity behaviors.

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