Life is going 100 miles per hour. Who has time to shop for ingredients and clean dirty pans? So you choose processed, pre cooked meals instead.
Put it in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes. And as soon as the timer dings, all of the stress of making dinner is gone.
But is it really the best choice? Are there easy steps to get healthier if you’re relying on pre cooked meals?
We’re going to go over some of the fastest ways to get healthier if you’re relying on pre cooked meals. But first, we have to ask the question.
What’s so bad about pre cooked meals in the first place?
Growing up, I only worried about calories. If it wouldn’t make me fat, I figured it was A-OK. But it turns out that’s not the only thing that matters.
So, your food is your fuel. But if there isn’t a lot of nutrition, you feel like crap. You can be low energy, And you can have wild blood sugar swings that can even lead to depression.
Pre cooked meals can often appear healthy. But here are some common shortcomings.
- Processed foods
- Lack of freshness
- Too much sugar
- Wrong kind of oils
- Plastics and other chemicals
So, let’s talk about how to make all of this better. That way, you can get the best out of pre cooked meals without giving up convenience.
Check labels for sugar
Just because your precooked meals don’t seem sweet in nature doesn’t mean there’s not added sugar. In fact, eating lots of processed foods is a sure way to up your sugar intake.
So take back control. Look at labels. Ask questions.
Never assume that something is low in sugar just because it sounds healthy. Read the ingredients. And then look for grams of added sugar on the label.
And if you see lots of added sugar, walk away. You need healthier “relationships” in your life.
Not all processed food is the same. Make sure to look at the ingredients.
Let’s take the example of peanut butter. What do you need to make peanut butter?
The answer: peanuts.
But here are some of the ingredients you’ll find in many peanut butters, even ones that advertise themselves as healthy –
- Vegetable oils
So, don’t just trust the label that a food is healthy. Look at the ingredients and judge for yourself.
Warm in your own containers
Most pre cooked meals come in containers you can stick in the microwave or oven. But that doesn’t mean you should.
Most of these containers are made out of plastic. And these chemicals can cook into your foods once heated.
These chemicals can be toxic. And they can even be hormone disruptors, acting as fake estrogens or other hormones,
But this has an easy solution. Move the food into a glass container. Now chemicals won’t be the “secret ingredient” in your next meal.
Mix and match
Make your meal fresher by mixing pre cooked ingredients with fresh ones.
For instance, let’s say you get some pre cooked chicken. What can you do with this chicken to make your meal fresher?
- Add your chicken to a crisp salad
- Make a sandwich with a sprouted tortilla.
- Serve it with a side of freshly steamed veggies.
- Add it into a stir fry
This helps ensure you’re not completely relying on processed foods. And it helps you stay accountable for the nutrition in your meal.
Use local meal prep
The distance your meal travels can influence its freshness.
If food is expected to sit for a long time before consumption, the ingredients will likely contain more preservatives. Or perhaps it will be frozen, compromising freshness.
A local company may be able to provide you with pre cooked meals that were likely just packed. How much more nutritious than a frozen entrée from your grocery aisle.
Prep your own meals
Processed foods are convenient. You’ve had a long day. And you just want to unwind and relax,
You don’t want to slave over a hot stove.
So, here’s the solution. Pick a time in the week when you have a free hour or so. And do your own easy meal prep.
For instance, take a healthy easy chili recipe. And then scoop it into containers. Serve it with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or avocado.
Modern life is hectic.
So stop your all or nothing thinking. You can’t be expected to do it all. So don’t get down on yourself for having processed and pre cooked foods.
Your quest is now to find balance. Find ways to easily improve the health value. Mix processed and fresh ingredients. And consider prepping some of your own meals.
Dinner is served. And now it’s healthier.