Think healthy eating has to be time consuming, stressful and hard? Think again! In this post, we’re debunking that belief and proving how you can save time in the kitchen AND be healthy with a variety of tips and tools you can start implementing TODAY.
I get it. Sometimes, healthy eating and natural living just. feels. so. hard.
When our schedules get full, our workload turns stressful or we feel like our general day-to-day just doesn’t allow time for us to cook healthy meals, it can feel like we’re stuck with no solution short of greasy takeout and processed fast food.
But while turning to quick but not-so-healthy dinner solutions like ordering a pizza or Chinese food are okay once in awhile (y’all know I’m all about that 80:20 rule!), but when it starts to become more of our daily norm, we’re bound to start feeling, I’ll say it, gross.
In fact, the #2 concern that I hear from you, my dear readers, is “I don’t have time to be healthy.” (The #1 concern is–you guessed it!–“Healthy eating is expensive.” I debunked that belief this post 30 Ways to Save Money + Eat Healthy on a Budget.)
So, we’re at it again and showing you all the tools and tips you can use in your life to save time and make eating healthy easier, less stressful and more attainable so that you can enjoy your life. Let’s do the damn thang!
25 Ways to Save Time + Be Healthy
- Shop online at Thrive Market. This online retailer is where I buy almost all of my non-perishable food and it’s so much faster than going to the grocery store! It’s like Costco (think wholesale prices) meets Amazon (it’s online–read: super easy to shop in your PJs) meets Whole Foods (it’s all wholesome, non-toxic foods and products that’ll put you on the fast track to your healthiest self)! Not only are their prices WAYYYY cheaper than almost every other retailer, but they’re always giving you free gifts of full-size products and great coupon codes to use on your order. Save time by putting things on subscriptions, re-ordering your favorite healthy products and avoiding the rush and lines at the grocery store. Click here to get an extra 20% off on your first 3 orders, plus a 30-day free trial!
- Order groceries on Auto-ship. Some of my favorite brands and online shopping retailers like Amazon, Butcher Box, Vital Proteins, Cora, and Truvani make it easy to never run out of what you need, be it your favorite pantry staples, personal care items or daily supplements. Plus, usually, you save money too by opting-in to Autoship, so it’s really a win-win! Save time planning, making lists and actually shopping and have everything you need automatically shipped to your doorstep.
- Meal plan. Planning ahead goes a long way! When you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat for dinner, you’ll save a ton of time. Services like The Fresh 20, Real Plans and Cook Smarts make this super easy by providing you with meal plans based on your personal preferences.
- Get a cookbook or e-cookbook. Cookbooks are inspiring; I mean, who doesn’t flip through a cookbook and immediately want to eat everything on the page? This can help with your meal planning, too. My friend Maya from Wholesome Yum has a 30 Dinners in 30 Minutes e-cookbook that is an awesome tool, or pick out one of The 25 Best Cookbooks Everyone Should Own.
- Join a CSA. A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is the perfect way to get fresh, local produce on the regular. You can join at a nearby farm or farmer’s market. Typically your weekly or bi-weekly basket gets delivered to you, or you can pick it up at a convenient location close to home. This way you’re getting the freshest produce, saving time with less shopping AND supporting your local farmer – wins across the board!
- Use a meal kit delivery service. Want to save time shopping and cooking, with the added benefit of eliminating waste in the kitchen? A healthy meal kit delivery service like Sun Basket (my favorite!) can be a lifesaver on busy nights. Sun Basket offers organic, gourmet and fresh recipe boxes all in eco-friendly, recyclable packaging. Pick your preference with options for Vegan, Gluten-Free and Paleo meals. Get your first three meals TOTALLY FREE when you sign up using this link!
- Cook in batches. Instead of having to cook dinner every night, cook your meals in batches (2-3 meals at a time) so you’ve got food ready for days, but only have to cook and clean up once. This makes mealtime a breeze! Likewise…
- Double or triple your recipes when it makes sense so you can have leftovers and/or freeze for later. Leftovers are insanely delicious and sometimes even better than the first meal, after everything’s had a chance to marinade! Freezing works great with most meals but especially with things like soups, casseroles, sauces and cookies. Cook once, eat for days!
- Buy convenient,yet healthy, foods. Items like pre-cut fruits and veggies, canned beans, quick-cooking sprouted whole grains, jarred sauces, pre-washed organic greens and boxed organic broth will do wonders to save you time, without sacrificing your commitment to real food. Check out our Savvy Swaps series for healthier prepackaged food.
- Frozen fruits and veggies are your best friends! They’re still loaded with nutrients since they’re frozen from fresh produce picked at the peak of the season, create no waste and are always ready to add to a dish, especially soups, or smoothie. There are even spiralized veggies and cauliflower rice now in the freezer section, making it easy to get in an extra serving of vegetables.
- Buy healthy baking mixes. When your sweet tooth kicks in, there are plenty of healthier options on the shelf to make your baking life easier, like Simple Mills gluten-free cookies, brownies, cakes, muffins and more.
- Use the right kitchen tools. You’ll drastically cut down on time when you have the proper gadgets like sharp knives, a Vitamix for high speed blending (check out their website too for sales), a food processor to make quick work chopping and shredding (I love my Cuisinart), and a microplane for quick zests and grates of citrus, ginger, garlic and cheese.
- Get both a pressure cooker and slow cooker. Pressure cookers like the Instant Pot and slow cookers like a Crockpot make dinner seriously easy. You just toss some ingredients into the pot and let the appliance do its thing! The Instant Pot cooks food ridiculously fast, while the Crock Pot cooks it slow, usually for at least 4 hours. Both are great depending on your needs (i.e., start the Crock Pot in the morning before work, but use the Instant Pot at night for a quick meal).
- Stop peeling your produce. The skin is where the nutrients live, it’s delicious, and you’ll save valuable prep time! This applies to fruits and veggies like cucumbers, beets, carrots, apples, potatoes and eggplant (just be sure to give them a good wash first and ideally buy organic when possible).
- Have your mise en place ready. Read the recipe in full before you start, and prep all your ingredients before you start cooking so you’re ready to go. This truly makes cooking way easier and saves you time in the long run!
- Prep in advance. Additionally, you can get your mise en place ready hours or even days in advance. For example, on Sunday you can spend an hour chopping and prepping your fruit and veggies for the week, then store them in BPA-free glass containers for use over the coming week. When you need a chopped onion on Tuesday, you’ll be so grateful that it’s ready to go!
- Make new meals from leftovers. If the same old leftovers get boring to you, try utilizing them in new ways. For example, you can roast a whole chicken for dinner one night, and then use it to make a few different recipes like chicken salad, chicken soup or chicken tacos the rest of the week. Then use the bones to make homemade bone broth!
- Embrace one pot meals. Recipes you can make all in the same pot or pan are a time-saver, both in cooking and clean up time. Soups, stews, skillet meals, quick casseroles and frittatas all make perfect one pot meals.
- Soups and stews are recipe staples. They’re easy, usually come together quickly, create meals for days that you can also freeze, and are the perfect opportunity to clean out the fridge (reduce waste!). Try our Easy and Healthy Vegetable Soup with Turmeric (Vegan + GF) or Easy, Creamy Cauliflower Soup (Paleo).
- Add quick flavor. Seasonings, sauces and condiments go a long way in making your meal interesting and extra yummy. Things like garlic, red pepper flakes, mustard, parmesan cheese, soy sauce or tamari, spice blends, flavored sea salts, fish sauce, and squeezes of lime or lemon can make all the difference, in almost no time at all.
- Stop pre-heating. Unless you’re baking where cook time is ultra-precise, you can add your meat and veggies to the oven as soon as you turn it on, rather than waiting for it to warm up. They’ll be done faster and the texture and taste will stay the same!
- Make time to meditate or journal in the morning. Yes, I realize you may think at first that it’d be impossible to save time by ADDING a step to your morning routine, but it’s been shown how taking some quiet time to relax your mind through meditation and/or journaling actually helps improve your focus, so you’ll be better off in the long run and will find that you have more energy to get things done. Not to mention, these practices also decrease stress and up your overall joy factor and sense of well-being.
- Reduce distraction. Nothing wastes more time and adds more stress than constantly shifting your focus from topic to topic and feeling like you’re getting nothing done. When you’re taking the time to meal plan, prep or cook, make a commitment to silence your phone, turn off your TV and (if cooking with a tablet or laptop) close out of all tabs and turn off notifications during that window. You’ll be amazed at how much more efficient you can be!
- Track your time. With free tools like Toggl, Moment and Rescue Time, you can track what you’re doing and for how long so you really get a sense of where your time is going. It’s likely you’re wasting time somewhere without even knowing it! If you can cut out 15 minutes from social media, for example, it will give you time to pack a healthy lunch for the next day.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well and feeling rested allows us to feel more focused and energized during the day. Bad sleep is one of the top factors that can impact our health. Who feels inspired to cook when they’re tired and dragging all day? For better sleep, don’t look at a computer or phone screen for at least 30 minutes before bed (the light causes interference). Also do whatever you can to relax before bed, be it a nice epsom salt bath, reading a book, doing some stretching, or snuggling with a loved one.
What are your favorite ways to save time while still being healthy? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. I am a paying member of Thrive myself and am only recommending their membership because I believe it is a wonderful place to spend your hard-earned money.