If you think you don’t have time to work out or hate the thought, you’re not alone. Ditto for cooking. If you still yearn for a healthier lifestyle, then good news! You can focus on changing your diet instead, which doesn’t have to be hard. The adage that “abs are made in the kitchen” is true. Diet plays a huge role in your ability to lose or maintain weight and to stay healthy. (See our article about diet versus exercise.) So, just because you don’t work out doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy.
Yes, changing your diet can take time and effort, particularly if you’re doing a 180. However, any change requires adaptation. Once you adapt and develop a routine, the changes will feel second-nature. (See our article about things to keep in mind when starting a new diet routine.) Lack of time and energy is a most common constraint people list against reforming their diet, so let’s discuss options:
1. Choose more hassle-free meals
I understand cooking takes time, including preparation and cleanup, so consider quicker cooking methods. For instance, we regularly use the Instant Pot for minimal effort cooking, where we simply throw ingredients into the pot and push start. It cooks meals much quicker than by stove, oven, or other methods. Much like a slow cooker, you can prep in the morning and simply leave it on the “warm” function during the day. (You can find the pot on our Shop page to find out more.) If you don’t want to spend time cutting and compiling the ingredients in the morning, then do it the night before.
Another handy appliance we use is a sous vide cooker. (Also available on our Shop page.) We can throw frozen meats/foods into a pot with this cooker, eliminating the need to thaw. For instance, individually wrapped frozen wild salmon filets that we buy from Costco. Once the sous vide round is done, we do a quick seasoning and 2-minute sear per side (optional). The food always turns out amazingly delicious.
2. Cook in bulk
We routinely cook large batches of food on certain days/nights to provide leftovers for lunches and dinners. That way, we don’t have to worry about making time to cook after work or on having to buy lunches or packaged foods for work lunches. Making a couple of main and side options allows some variety to beat monotony. If we happen to be out of leftovers, then we keep quick healthy options on hand to cook, such as eggs.
Yes, cooking in bulk takes time at the moment, but ends up saving time by eliminating individual prep and clean up times on other days. It’s usually much healthier than eating out, too, so long as you make healthy meal options.
3. Choose wiser with prepared meals
If you’re simply not into cooking and must buy packaged or prepared meals, then modify your choices. A lot of stores and restaurants now tout “healthier” options. Supermarket chains seem to be constantly expanding their “natural” and “organic” food sections, and stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts try to offer even larger selections. Just remember that a product labelled as “organic,” “low-fat,” or “gluten-free” doesn’t always mean healthy. (See our article about possibly misleading labels.) Try to read ingredient and nutrition labels to ensure you’re eating clean, or as clean as you can. Lastly, quite a few meal kit delivery services (e.g. Blue Apron) have popped up in recent years. These services send weekly ingredients and recipes to you, eliminating the need for you to shop and decide on weekly menus.
4. Combine meal prep with socialization
Some people enjoy food prep parties, where friends (or strangers) gather to cook bulk meals in a social setting. If you know someone who is also interested in improving their diet, then you can propose cooking in bulk together – or simply for a single meal. The social aspect can lessen any dislike of cooking you have, and you don’t have to sacrifice social time for cooking!
Realistically, short of paying someone else to cook healthy for you, cooking your own meals is the easiest way to ensure healthy eating. If you’re paying money to food establishments anyway, then you might as well pay money for healthier options. Otherwise, if you’re cooking most of the time already, then you might as well adapt to cooking healthier items. Everything will take time, whether it’s taking the time to drive to a restaurant or to sit in a drive-through lane. Yes, driving may feel like less effort, but if you took that same time you used to drive and wait for your meal to make a bulk meal that you can simply reheat, then the time savings could be negligible. Probably less expensive, too. You have to decide whether perceived effort is worth your health and remember that any change can become routine.