5 Steps to Make Time to Cook Healthful Meals

I often hear many women say that one of their biggest challenges to eating healthy is not having enough time to cook. In fact, I used to be one preparing foodof those women before I had children.  When I was in my early twenties, I didn’t realize how important cooking real food was to my overall health and well-being.

According to one study, “time scarcity, the feeling of not having enough time, has been implicated in changes in food consumption patterns such as a decrease in food preparation at home, an increase in the consumption of fast foods, a decrease in family meals, and an increase in the consumption of convenience or ready-prepared foods. These food choices are associated with less healthful diets and may contribute to obesity and chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.”¹

Another study published in Public Health Nutrition, maintains that frequently cooking your meals is associated with living a longer life and enjoying a more nutritious diet.² This does not surprise me considering that most of today’s modern illnesses are associated with the highly processed foods we eat today. The more you cook your own meals from scratch, the better off you are.

As a mom of three young girls and a business owner, it can be quite challenging to make homemade meals everyday but I have found a way to make it happen. The truth of the matter is that we make time for the things that are really important to us. Once you make cooking a true priority, you make time to do it.

Here are my top 5 tips to help you carve out time to make healthful meals:

1) Make it priority.

Ok, this is worth repeating because it is the most important step. In order for you to succeed at anything, you have to assign it some meaning. It has to be a priority. Focus on how cooking aligns with your goals and values. Perhaps you want to cook your own meals so that you can manage your condition better. Maybe you want to lose weight so you can chase after the grandkids more easily. Or maybe you would like to be able to sit down and enjoy a nice meal with your family each night. They key is to figure out how cooking more frequently supports your vision of wellness and then prioritize accordingly.

2) Plan ahead.

Decide what meals you would like to make a week ahead of time. This will allow you to shop for everything you will need for the upcoming week without having to rush out to the store multiple times. You are more likely to cook if you have the ingredients that you need at your finger tips. This also saves you time from having to figure out what you are going to eat each day and keeps you from running out of healthful options at the end of the week.

3) Prep in advance.

Now that you know what’s on the menu, carve out some time to prep your food for the upcoming week. I love to save my labor intensive food prep for Sundays because that’s when I have more time for domestic duties. You can often find me doing things like roasting a chicken, making stock and dressings, slicing onions, chopping lettuce, spiralizing cucumbers, etc. Schedule time on the weekend, or whenever you can carve out a block of time, to do things you might not have time to do during the week.

4) Get into a routine.

Instead of focusing on cutting out junk food, focus on creating a habit of healthful eating. To help you get into the habit, try to eat your meals at the same time each day and be sure to block out time around your meals to actually cook them. Treat this time as a standing appointment and safeguard it. Eventually, cooking your meals will feel like second nature.

5) Cook once eat twice (or thrice).

Save time by cooking enough food to ensure you have left-overs.  I often make double the amount I think I need for one meal so that I always have left-over available for breakfast and/or lunch. One of my favorite meals is my Chicken Spinach Avocado Bowl. I just add leftover chicken to a bowl of leftover spinach and top with avocado. It is delicious, nutritious, and super easy to heat up in the oven.

Follow these five steps and you will find the time you need to cook and support your health and well-being.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you carve out time to cook or what your challenges are. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

1. Jabs, J., Devine CM. Time scarcity and food choices: an overview. Appetite. 2006;47(2):196-204.

2. Chia-Yu Chena, R., Leea M., ChangaY,  Wahlqvist, ML.  Cooking frequency may enhance survival in Taiwanese elderly. Public Health Nutrition. 2012;15(7):1142-1149.

About Tiffany deSilva

Hi I'm Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPC, CHC, Founder of BrightFire Living, LLC. I am a social worker, speaker, author, certified health, wellness and lifestyle coach, certified green living coach and toxic-free consultant. I am passionate about helping women like you to detox each area of your life, safeguard your family's health, and live life fully charged and completely lit up! I am on a mission to empower women and families who are managing food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other modern chronic health conditions to live a safe, happy, and healthy life that truly lights your fire!

Feedback & Comments:

  1. I agree if cooking is what you want to do, make it a priority. That’s the only way it will actually get done. I don’t enjoy being in a kitchen at all and probably at this point never will. But I get it that the healthiest food is fresh and raw. Gives me a challenge sometimes!

    • Tiffany deSilva says

      It can be a challenge! I can’t really say that enjoy being in the kitchen that much, but I do enjoy and value eating healthy food, so I make it a priority.

  2. This is also so important for young people in their 20’s who don’t eat well because they don’t make it a priority. This affects their health later in life.

  3. Tiffany,

    I agree about prepping in advance. I try to make it a ritual so I have fresh, whole food to fuel my body, mind and soul. I’ve eliminated most processed foods and prepare meals from scratch. Often I’ll make extra to freeze.

    My new favorite breakfast is refrigerator oatmeal with chia seeds, fruit and cultured coconut milk (instead of yogurt). YUMMY.

    Thanks for for a great read and the reinforcement that we have to make ourselves a priority.

    Write on!~

    Lisa Manyon

  4. Tiffany, I completely agree with you on the importance of making cooking for our families a priority! Meal planning is so important. I have found that the crock pot is a working woman’s best friend!

  5. Your tips are exactly spot on. Since I am the cook
    and the rest which goes with it – these are exactly
    the steps I follow to make it all work without stress.

  6. I am a big fan of cook once and then eat twice or thrice. I love to have left-over dinner for breakfast – makes for a great protein start to my day

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