We modern women have extremely busy schedules that make it hard to have a nice home-cooked meal on a regular basis. We all know we need to eat healthier; fast food heaps the pounds on us faster than you can say “cellulite”!

Eating a Healthy DinnerEven if you skip the fast food and opt for higher quality dining, you really have no idea just how fresh that awesome osso bucco was, or whether or not the veggies that came with it were organic (or even washed thoroughly). The fact is, if you really want to have control of what goes into your body, the best way to do so is to cook all your meals at home. This will allow you to choose each and every ingredient that goes into your dishes. Of course, we also want fresh, quality food… not the processed, pre-cooked meals that are more likely to have been concocted by chemists rather than chefs.

What’s a girl to do when she’s too busy with her career (or raising children or doing whatever else) to cook?

Is it realistic to have time to cook when you’re busy climbing the corporate ladder? Is there life beyond that horrible microwave dinner? The good news is that there are plenty of smart tips that you can follow to streamline the process of cooking, so that it’s as efficient as possible, thus allowing you to eat healthy while conquering the world.

Here are five quick tips that you can easily apply now:

  1. Buy packaged, pre-washed, ready-to-eat fresh vegetables. Nowadays, you can pretty much buy all the ingredients for a beautiful salad in just a few minutes. We’re talking organic ingredients that are often “triple-washed so you don’t have to”. How easy can a fresh, healthy salad be?
  2. Frozen fruits make great smoothies. Frozen is not always a bad thing. In my freezer, I always have at least a couple bags of organic strawberries, blue berries, peaches, acai, and chopped bananas. Just throw a variety of frozen fruit into your Vitamix, along with some orange juice or coconut milk, and a little honey. Within five minutes or less from when you start, you’ll have a yummy fruit smoothie that’ll rival anything made by an unenthusiastic teen at the local smoothie shop.
  3. Plan your meals ahead of time. If you’re like me, you don’t have time to mess around. Do yourself a favor and take a good ten minutes during your down time to make two lists: a list of the meals you’d like to make for the week, and a shopping list. Once you know what meals you’d like for the week, mentally review what ingredients are needed for each meal and compare it to your pantry inventory. Make a shopping list based on that. Without the extra planning, you’ll end up wasting several trips to the store for things you forgot, instead of making one very efficient trip.
  4. Make extra. Ok, I admit that this tip is one you can get tired of really fast… I mean, how many days in a row of turkey can you have? Still, if you always make enough of each meal to last two or three meals, your fridge and freezer can contain a variety of pre-cooked meals that you can quickly warm up.
  5. Keep your pantry stocked with the basics. The more you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to make something on a whim. If you don’t have many standard items in your pantry, cooking may become discouraging. Make sure you have many of the usual and favorite ingredients that you enjoy, so that cooking may be a relaxing process. For example, having garlic, rice, chicken stock, potatoes, canned veggies, eggs, cheese, bread and so on will give you options when you just don’t feel like making that meatloaf you had planned to make tonight.

No matter what our schedule, we all should be making our health a priority.

Without good diet and good health, we invite lethargy and health problems into our lives. So, take control of your eating habits! No matter how busy you are, with these five tips, you can make time to always cook yourself a healthy meal!

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