Upon publishing my second book, Sunnah Superfoods, just days ago, I had a friend reach out and exclaim excitement at starting a new diet- again.
The main concern she had was a lack of time to prepare healthy meals, leaving her with no choice but frozen breakfast waffles, fast-food stops for lunch, and perhaps pizza or take-out for dinner, many days of the week. “I’m paying for my time,” she’d say.
As convenient as it may be to pick up the phone and order pizza, instead of having to meal plan ideas, purchase groceries, and take time to make dinner at home, you’re definitely paying for your time, but forsaking your health. For that, these tips and suggestions will aid you on your journey to better health, without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or lethargic.
Cook once, eat thrice (or more).
For example, pilafs of rice, noodles, quinoa, burghul, pastas, can be prepared in a big batch and kept plain- to mix and match the next day. You can eat them up to two or three days. Your quinoa today can be with roasted vegetables and chicken, and tomorrow the remainder can be added to a homemade tabouli salad. This saves you cooking time, and a headache.
Make Various Casseroles.
One of the easiest ways to get your vegetables in is to bake a nice big casserole for the busy week ahead. Roast your favorite vegetables with organic pasta, eggs, meat, chicken, salmon, or even on their own. Casseroles are easy to heat, can be loaded with healthy proteins and vegetables, and keep you going during a busy day.
Bake big batches of proteins- keep them plain (chicken, salmon, fish, beans, meats).
These various proteins can be topped on your dinner rice, eaten over a bed of greens for lunch the next day, or used to prepare a new unique entrée for dinner.
Prepare a batch of bean dips.
This can vary from hummus, to black bean dip, or even a mix of white northern beans with roasted red peppers. Try various beans and spices and see what you can come up with. You can store hummus and other bean dips in an air-tight glass container for a good three days. Wait to garnish them with extra virgin olive oil or parsley until ready to eat. Beans are very filling, high in dietary fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. They will aid in balancing your blood sugar, improving your digestion, and reducing your cravings for junk.
Prepare slices of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc. and store them in an air-tight glass container. You can also place some in smaller portions to grab on your way out the door early morning. Having vegetables at hand will help you avoid making bad choices, like stopping at a fast-food chain when hunger kicks in.
Marinate your proteins 2-3 days ahead.
Marinating your salmon or chicken for two or three days will not only save you time, but leave them loaded with pungent flavor. Marinate sliced or whole chicken, fish, or meat with apple cider vinegar, various spices, Himalayan pink salt, and even a drizzle of organic cold-pressed avocado oil. These not only give your proteins flavor, but preserve them in the fridge for 2-3 days. This will save you stress in deciding what to make for dinner on your way home in jam-packed traffic; you can just bake the chicken once you’re home, instead of having to thaw it frozen and hasten to prepare your family a meal.
Cut a bowl of veggie-full salad and don’t put dressing on entire batch.
It may sound simple, but that saves you time from preparing salad the next day. Add kale, spinach, or your favorite leafy greens, shredded carrots and cabbage, mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers- really the list is endless. Keeping the dressing on the side will keep the greens crisp and fresh for the next day; it’ll be relieving to know your salad is ready while you’re staring at a long list of tasks at work.
Soak your grains and beans in advance.
Soaking your grains and beans not only quickens their cooking process but reduces their phytic acid levels as wellS. Thus, your body will have an easier time digesting them, and absorbs the nutrients better, too.
How about a slow cooker?
Slow cookers can do wonders! You can toss in frozen veggies, broth, proteins, and let it take it’s time. It does the cooking for you, while you can get your chores done, and help your children with their homework.
Make broth in advance!
Bone broth is underestimated in terms of its nutritional value! Make a big batch of bone broth and use it for various meals. Store in air-tight glass jars in the fridge (or freeze in air-tight bags) and use within 3-4 days. You can use it in a variety of soups, stews, casseroles, or even pilafs.
Next time you feel tempted to dial for pizza, try these tips, organize your schedule ahead of time, and observe as you can do your family’s health wonders.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.