When life speeds up, meal preparation can become a source of stress. You want to eat well, after all—you want your meals to taste good and be filled with nutrition—but how do you manage when time is tight or you’re simply exhausted?
If you’ve been wondering how to eat healthy when you have no time to cook, you are not alone. Many Canadians struggle with this very challenge. Fortunately, there are some great ideas to eat healthy even when you have no time to choose. You can choose between popular options like leftovers, snacks, or ordering from a prepared meal delivery service.
Here are few ideas on how to eat healthy when you have no time to cook:
1. Cook Meals One Week at a Time
If you’re not used to planning meals more than a day, or even a few hours, ahead, try planning for the entire week at once. As you map out your family’s activities and your evening commitments, you’ll know at-a-glance which nights will need a quick bite and which will provide more prep time.
With these guidelines in place, you will likely stay organized and feel less stress.
2. Indulge in Grocery Store Time
Grocery shopping is important when you want to eat healthy and have no time to cook. If possible, try to shop for the entire week at once, giving yourself the chance to think about each meal, while spending less time back and forth to buy groceries.
Remember to buy plenty of extra veggies and fruit, which can not only work as a healthy snack but can also be added on to main courses for flavour and variety.
3. Prepare Healthy Foods in Bulk
Once you have your groceries for the week, be sure to put aside time for food preparation. Wash and chop vegetables for easy use during the week, whether you toss them into a quick stir fry or use them for easy snacking.
If your weekly meal plan has a make-ahead staple such as shepherd’s pie or lasagna, prepare more than one at a time, so you can freeze a portion for future use.
4. Make the Most of Leftovers
Sometimes, the easiest meal is what’s left over from the night before. If you’ve got a healthy chili or stew on the menu for the week, make sure you have enough to feed your family for a second night. By adding a quick salad and cut veggies to your heat-and-go main course, you’ll have a fast, healthy meal ready for your busiest nights.
5. Load Up on Pantry Essentials
As you set out to make weekly meal plans, think about making a separate trip to the grocery store for pantry essentials alone. Think about pasta, soups and tomato sauce for quick ready-to-go meals, as well as canned beans, tuna, chickpeas and other sources of easy protein.
Remember to buy your favourite sauces for easy marinades and plenty of frozen vegetables and fruits. Given that these items are often large and heavy, it is helpful to load up on them in a single trip to the grocery store.
6. Explore Prepared Meal Delivery
Thankfully, many Canadian cities and towns now offer prepared meal delivery kits. Delicious, healthy and easy to prepare, home-delivered meal kits allow you to plan ahead with variety and flavour.
Most healthy meal subscription services allow you to choose from a wide selection of menu items and have them delivered on a schedule that works for you. Be sure to find a service that comes highly recommended, offers plenty of variety and features sustainable packaging.
7. Remember Healthy Snacks
As you plan out your healthy meal schedule, remember to think about snacks. Most of the time we reach for a snack, we’re hungry and in a hurry. This is when we’re most vulnerable to eating processed food, laden with sugar and salt. If you plan ahead and have healthy, ready-to-grab snacks available—sliced carrots and cucumbers, melon and berries—your family is more likely to reach for them when they’re hungry.
8. Order Meals on Schedule
Of course, the ultimate time-saver is the home delivery of hot food. If you have a restaurant nearby that provides healthy meal options, it’s best to plan your take-out night as part of your weekly schedule. Of course, a night out of the kitchen comes at a cost. Ordering in is a pricey way to offer your family healthy meal options. If you have a restaurant you want to support, make sure your budget allows for this option.
Between working late, getting kids to hockey, soccer or dance, helping with homework and throwing in a load of laundry, healthy weekday meals can feel like a lofty goal. The good news is that with a bit of planning, you can set yourself up for success.
Having a plan for groceries and meals, making the most of leftovers and make-ahead meals will help remove some of your mid-week stress. If you’ve been thinking about how to eat healthy when you have no time to cook, we hope these tips and ideas have been useful.