Eat Healthy And Save Time: 9 Ways To Meal-Prep Like A Pro

Sometimes all it takes to eat healthy is a well-stocked pantry. Here are 10 tricks that will save you time in the kitchen

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10 Healthy Meal Preparation Tips You Need To Know

If you stock your pantry, fridge and freezer with healthy, easy to prepare and ready to eat foods, what's stopping you from eating them? Nothing! By having healthy foods pre-chopped and portioned, you'll find that it's easy to eat healthily,even when you're crunched for time.

There are plenty of tricks to keeping healthy!  Ready-to-eat foods within reach some are right there on the grocery shelf, but some require a little pre-planning and effort on your part. But if you'll take the time and tweak your buying habits, eating right is easy, on even the busiest night of the week. Here are 10 ways to make healthy meal preparation a little easier.

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1. Buy Ready-Cut Broccoli and Cabbage Slaw

The stuff is versatile! Sure, it makes a great salad or coleslaw, but it's also fast and fantastic stir-fried or in place of lettuce in a wrap. For a delicious, smooth soup in under 25 minutes, simmer it in broth with a chopped potato, then puree.

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2. Choose Frozen Foods 

In case you still think that fresh is always better, think again. In winter, fruits and veggies are picked before their peak then spend way too much time en route, in the dark, and we know, the moment something has been picked it starts losing nutritional value. Frozen veggies and fruits are usually flash frozen within minutes or hours of being picked, locking in much more of their precious and delicate vitamins and minerals. Rule of thumb: If you can buy it from a local producer, fresh is better. California green beans in January? Pick frozen.

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3. Have Asian Rice Noodles On Hand 

Open a package of rice noodles, place it in a bowl or container, cover it with cold water and store in the fridge. In a couple of hours those noodles will be soft enough to cook up in a stir-fry or broth in mere minutes. Covered, unused noodles will keep for up to a week.

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4. Store Pre-Cooked Brown Rice 

It's yummy and seriously good for us, but it takes forever to cook! Thankfully, it also keeps really well. When you have some time, boil up a big pot of brown rice and store it in portions in baggies or containers. Leave a couple of portions in the fridge and put the rest away in the freezer. Now you've got cooked rice for a vegetable fried rice dish, to toss into a soup, for quick rice and nut salad or to simply reheat in the microwave and serve with a piece of fish or other protein.

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5. Cook For The Week Ahead 

Spend Sunday afternoon or another day off making nutritious meals for the week. Make it a family affair or invite some chums over for a cook-off and share a bottle of wine. Keep one dish out and freeze the rest. No more stopping at the fast food joint on the way home: you know you've got something healthy waiting for you and all it needs is heating up.

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6. Eat More Garlic 

It's so good for you, but sometimes peeling and chopping garlic each time you want to use it isn't realistic. Grab a bag of pre-peeled garlic cloves: freeze some, roast some, puree some and keep some raw in the fridge. A peeled, raw clove kept in a tiny dish by the toaster means instant garlic bread in a flash. Toast bread until very crispy, then simply rub the garlic over the slice. The coarse surface acts as a grater. Butter or drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

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7. Wash, Dry and Chop Kale Ahead of Time

This humble cruciferous veg (member of the cabbage family) has gone from decorating the salad bar to topping the healthy food charts! But who wants to be confronted with a massive bunch of the tough stuff on a busy Monday night? Wash, dry and chop kale or collard greens and store in a tub or even a salad spinner. Now it's at arms length for adding to soups, stews, stir-frys and salads.

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8. Eat The Peels! 

Don't waste time peeling carrots, potatoes or apples. There's so much goodness and fibre there and think of the time you'll save. Just give them a good scrub and cut out any nasty blemishes. Buy a pair of exfoliating gloves to keep by the kitchen sink, they make excellent veggie scrubbers.

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9. Make Enough To Have Leftovers

When it's time to sit down with a lovely, slow roast, make a healthy and hearty Sunday dinner that keep on giving throughout the week. Here's an example we love: a one-pot, boiled chicken dinner with carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onions and garlic on the first night. What's left over is broth and all the fixin's for soups or pho, sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes. If you've never boiled a chicken, here's why it's so amazing: the meat is as moist as can be. The skin is kind of icky, so you won't be at all tempted to eat it, and we all know that's where most of the saturated fat is! The broth is rich and wonderful and the leftovers will feed you well again.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada