Let's face it, not everyone likes to cook. Some folks don't know their way around the kitchen, their skills and priorities may even lie elsewhere. And there are still others who are so busy they just don't have the time to spend in the kitchen, but they still worry about serving healthy and nutritious meals for themselves and their families.
If any of that describes you, you may worry that it means you can't eat healthily. That you are simply relegated to ordering pizzas just to eat something.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however. You can still enjoy a healthy, delicious, and guilt-free diet without cooking. One of the top keys to eating healthy is to have nutritious foods on hand, ready to go. This requires thought and preparation, but you can do it!
Here are four top tips for success in eating healthy without cooking:
1. Choose Convenience Foods Wisely
Convenience foods are great for exactly that, their convenience! So many of us lead busy lives and find ourselves looking for food options that are easy and quick to prepare. Unfortunately, many pre-packaged convenience foods are high in calories and are loaded with unhealthy additives, fats, sugars, and salt.
Thankfully, not all convenience foods are unhealthy or fattening. Today there are many great options for nutritious convenience foods, including:
● Ready-made Salads. These are great for having a nutritional, quick, and easy meal readily available. Having ready-made salad mixes on hand leaves no room for excuses to not eat healthily.
● Chopped and Ready-to-Cook Vegetables. These can be a great time-saver for snacks, or to add to your salad to make it a complete meal. Healthy and nutritious, pre-sliced or chopped vegetables are usually more expensive but that's because you're paying for the convenience of having someone else do the work of cutting it up for you.
● You can also use these ready-to-cook vegetables with River House Dressings for a great snack!
● If you're willing to do a bit of cooking, try a quick, cooked meal by roasting your veggies in the oven with a little salt and pepper. Another easy option is to steam them and serve over a bed of prepackaged, cooked rice that only needs re-heating.
2. Read Labels
Take time to read the labels. Not just what's on the front of the package, that's the marketing part. Look for the ingredients; they're listed in order of content, from the most to the least amount in the product.
Also, keep in mind that some ingredients can go by other names as well, some of which may be unfamiliar to you. For example, there are over 60 different names for sugar to hide under.
Examine the salt, fat, and sugar content on the box or jar. Look for products with the following nutritional content:
● Low Fat: products where the fat content is at or below 3g per 100 grams.
● Low Sugar: products where the sugar content is at or below 5g per 100 grams.
● Low Salt: products where the salt content is at or below 0.3g per 100 grams.
3. Snack Healthy
There are so many snacks that don't require any cooking and are nutritious, satisfying, and delicious. Choose nutritional snacks and your body and mind will thank you. A sugary snack might sound great at first when your energy is running low; in that case, try some fresh fruit with natural sugar instead.
● Fresh fruit. Make sure you always have some fresh fruit on hand for those "snack attacks." Apples, oranges, bananas, berries, all can make quick and easy snacks. Consider preparing your fruit in the evening so that it will be ready when you are the next day. Try different combinations of mixed fruits, or put them into a smoothie for a different flavor.
● Chopped vegetable sticks and dip. Chopped vegetable sticks are a great snack when you need a little pick-me-up, just make sure the dip is also nutritious. Think outside the box, and try a nutritious and delicious salad dressing as your dip.
● A small handful of unsalted nuts and dried fruit. Nuts are very filling, so you won't need more than a small handful to satisfy you.
Nuts and fruits are also extremely portable. Take a small baggie of them with you in the morning if you're going to be out all day, so you will always have a nutritious and satisfying snack readily available.
● Try blending your own smoothie. There are limitless combinations, and tons of recipes online.
● Skip the protein bars, though, including those labeled "low-fat." Most are sugar and calorie heavy.
● When you're away from home, you can find healthy prepackaged snacks at any grocery store, in airports, as well as many other locations. Airport snacks will be more expensive, but so will their unhealthy snacks, so why not choose the nutritious ones?
4. Eat More Salads
Salads are a quick and easy way to eat without cooking. Try to keep prepackaged salads on hand so that you always have nutritious choices readily available. Be sure to vary it up, there are many recipes online for delicious salads. You can also purchase pre-chopped vegetables to add to a nutritional green leaf salad base, which is very quick and easy.
● Add your favorite canned beans, rinsed well to get rid of the excess salt, a small number of nuts and seeds, maybe even a few raisins, the possibilities are endless.
● Add a nutritious and delicious salad dressing and you're ready to enjoy a quick and easy meal that is nutritious, satisfying, guilt-free.
Don't wait until you're starving to grab a snack, you may not use your best judgment once at this stage of hunger. Be proactive and plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead. Eating healthily without cooking is a lot easier with a little forethought.
For a healthy and delicious salad dressing that doubles as a delicious dip for fruits and vegetables, try one of our River House Dressings. All our dressings are artisan-made and contain only the very best ingredients. They are also non-GMO, with no preservatives or fillers added.