Save Time in the Kitchen, Part 1

Who wouldn’t want to get more done in less time?

Like most of my clients, I lead a busy life. I bet you do too. Some overworked and busy people don’t prioritize healthful meals because they think they don’t have time. Fortunately, you don’t need tons of time to make improvements to your diet. Here are several time-saving, health-boosting ideas I share with my clients.

Stock Up on Healthy Convenience Foods

Think fruits and vegetables first, since Americans fall short in a big way when it comes to produce. Then consider whole grains and lean protein.

  • Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables. When selecting vegetables, choose low sodium and no salt added varieties most often. If your family isn’t ready for all low sodium canned products, mix the low sodium and regular varieties together. There’s no excuse to a meal without fruit if you fill your pantry with canned fruits packed in their own juices.
  • Bagged Salad Greens. Give them a rinse and a spin. Then toss into a bowl with any favorite salad vegetables.
  • Pre-cut Produce. Broccoli, green beans, onions, mushrooms and more. Toss these into salads, casseroles, soups and pasta sauces.
  • Canned Beans. Rich in fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium and more, beans are linked to lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and even a lowered risk of having a second heart attack. Drain and rinse canned beans to wash away 40% of the sodium. For a fun salad, toss together two kinds of beans, drained and rinsed corn and your favorite salsa.
  • Quick-cooking Whole Grains. Stock your shelves with quick-cooking or instant brown rice, farro, wheat berries and barley. Quinoa cooks up in 15 or so minutes. Whole-wheat couscous takes only 5 minutes. You can whip together a speedy dinner with canned black beans and instant brown rice.
  • Canned Fish. Tuna, salmon and sardines each provide heart-shielding omega-3 fatty acids. Keep a few cans on hand for salads, casseroles and tuna or salmon patties.
  • Frozen Ready-to-Cook Shrimp. Shrimp defrosts lickety split under running water. Plus, you’ll love it for its versatility! Sauté, steam, grill or bake it. Enjoy it hot or cold. Toss it onto salads or add it to gazpacho.

Prepare Some Foods in Advance

Lots of my patients prepare several full meals on the weekends to eat on busy weeknights. Others – like me – prepare just a few recipes or ingredients ahead. Here are a few to try.

  • Hard-boiled Eggs. Perfect for a snack, a grab-and-go breakfast or a quick salad at lunchtime.
  • Gazpacho. This all-vegetable, tomato-based cold soup is a summertime favorite in my house. I toss garden-fresh veggies, seasonings and V8 into my Vitamix. Within minutes, I have several cups of low-calorie, nutrient-dense deliciousness that lasts a few days. We’ll eat it for snacks, lunch or dinner.
  • Marinated Salads. There are so many ways to marinate veggies. You’ll like this Cucumber and Onion Salad.
  • Roasted Vegetables. Cut, toss with oil, season and spread onto a pan. It’s that simple. Roast at 400-450°F. Heat and eat whenever you need an extra vegetable. Or toss these into salads, sandwiches or even into omelets.
  • Chopped Veggies. Wash and chop veggies whenever you have a free 45 minutes. Keep each one in separate containers or baggies. Pull out whichever ones you want for salads, casseroles, pasta sauce, soups – whatever. Easy-peasy!

There you have it. Just a little bit of planning and little bit of time up front can save you oodles of time and hugely boost your nutrition. Remember to check back next week for another post stuffed with even more tips.

Cheers to happy, healthy eating!


Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss – Week by Week and two upcoming books, The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition and 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Diabetes Association. Follow Jill on Twitter @NutritionJill and find more at

Items of Interest

August 12, 2015 Lifestyle Advice