Why It’s Actually Easy to Prep a Healthy Meal
It’s easy to convince yourself that preparing healthy meals for yourself is too difficult.
I don’t know how to cook. I don’t know what to cook. It’s cheaper and more convenient to get takeout.
In most cases, at least one, if not all three of these reasons are keeping you out of the kitchen, away from healthy food, and spending money on unhealthy takeout meals.
To help you understand why none of these three reasons are actually true, below is a counter-argument and practical approach to overcoming each one.
By the end of this article, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding of how to approach preparing your own healthy meals that your body, schedule, and wallet will appreciate.
Let’s get started!
Reason #1: You Don’t Know How to Cook
If your kitchen looks as new and untouched as when you first moved in, you’re not alone.
The seemingly infinite number of ingredient combinations, temperature requirements, and delicate recipe preparations are enough to keep even the bravest of souls out of the kitchen.
However, the reality is that cooking can be incredibly simple.
With the internet at your disposal, you can easily find plenty of recipes that only require you to follow 3-5 steps max.
Many recipes, such as those on www.budgetbytes.com, also explain each step in a way that even complete beginners can easily understand.
As an example, consider this simple recipe for Vegetable Barley Soup.
Whether it’s how many onions to chop up, the size of those chopped up onions, the required heat of the oven (or the stovetop), how to combine your ingredients, how long to cook your meal, or anything in between, many of these types of recipes leave no room for error.
Reason #2: You Don’t Know What to Cook
Even if you do know how to cook, it can be hard to know what to cook.
More specifically, it can be hard to distinguish healthy ingredients from unhealthy ingredients.
To simplify things, consider following Harvard University’s “Healthy Eating Plate”, which suggests prioritizing the following food groups:
- Vegetables and Fruits: As many different kinds and as many different colors as possible.
- Whole Grains: Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta
- Healthy Protein: Fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and limited servings of high-quality red meat.
In addition to these general categories, Harvard also suggests how much space each category should take up on your plate.
Here’s what they suggest:
- Vegetables and Fruits – ½ of your plate
- Whole Grains – ¼ of your plate
- Protein – ¼ of your plate
Now, every time you’re unsure of the healthiness of a particular meal, all you have to do is compare the ingredients with Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate.
If it fits, then the meal is certified healthy!
Reason #3: It’s Cheaper and/or More Convenient to Get Takeout
If you subscribe to this reason, then it’s likely a result of subscribing to at least one of the first two reasons above.
If you think it’s cheaper…
Did you know that by preparing meals at home just two times a week instead of eating out every day, you save an average of $1,000 per year?
That’s because, with the right ingredients, you can prepare healthy meals at home for as low as $4 compared to the average price of $13 per meal at a restaurant.
As a rule of thumb, stick to the outside walls of the grocery store for the most affordable and healthy ingredients (vegetables, meats, fruits, nuts, etc.). Generally speaking, as you get closer to the middle of the grocery store, you come across more refined, unhealthy foods.
As you peruse the outside walls, prioritize ingredients that are in season or on sale to be as cost-effective as possible.
To help get you started, here’s a great list of 14 affordable meals that are easy to prepare (remember to pick and choose meals that fit within Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate guidelines).
If you think it’s more convenient…
It’s hard to argue that grabbing a slice of pizza on your way home from work isn’t convenient, but that isn’t to say that healthy, home-prepared meals can’t be equally, if not more convenient.
The key is to prepare your healthy meals in bulk as much as possible.
For example, instead of cooking your chicken breast, rice and broccoli meal for just one night, prepare enough of each individual ingredient to last you the whole week.
This way, whenever you’re hungry, you can just quickly combine all the ingredients, heat it up, and have a healthy meal ready quicker than if you were to have a pizza delivered.
And to make sure you always have access to your bulk-cooked healthy meals, bring them with you to work, class, and any other location that’s not home.
See? Preparing healthy meals isn’t nearly as difficult, time-consuming, or inconvenient as you thought.
If you’re still not convinced, there’s one last thing you can do: use a meal delivery service.
These services are often cheaper than restaurants, offer diverse menus catering to different dietary preferences and allergies, accompany every meal with an easy-to-follow recipe card, and deliver everything you need to prepare healthy meals right to your doorstep every week.
While the majority of these services deliver to you specific recipe cards along with all the ingredients required to make those recipes, there are other services like Freshly that go so far as to deliver your meals pre-made. With these pre-made services, all you have to do is heat up your meal.
Plus, because most of these services offer new menu items on a weekly basis, you can still enjoy the diversity you might get by going out to a new restaurant, but at a much cheaper cost and from the comfort of your own home.
Here are some more meal delivery services to check out:
Hopefully, with the knowledge and resources above, you can now go out (or perhaps stay in) and start preparing those healthy meals your body deserves!