I’ve had a hard time finding the time to prepare and cook healthy meals for our family ever since I had my second child. Most of the time, we’re grabbing a fast meal. Takeout is served some nights. Pasta is served some nights. And on some nights, we’re lucky to have dinner of cheese and crackers. I’ve been trying harder to eat vegetables (and fruits) in order to keep us healthy, even though I know navigating newborn life is only a temporary stage.
Cut off slicing
Although not all vegetables will function in this way, many are already prepared. Consider baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and baby carrots. Your vegetables don’t need to be prepared, which saves you time in the kitchen whether you’re grabbing them for a fast snack or adding them to meals like Spinach-Mushroom Frittata or 20-Minute Cherry Tomato & Garlic Pasta. Other pre-chopped veggies, such as broccoli, butternut squash, and cauliflower, reduce the amount of chopping but frequently come at a premium price.
Select frozen and canned items.
Choose frozen and canned vegetables if you want convenience without spending more money. Contrary to popular belief, canned and frozen vegetables are equally as nutrient-dense as fresh vegetables. Vegetables that are frozen are harvested at their ripest and quickly frozen. You might be concerned about the extra sodium that is frequently found in canned vegetables, but many manufacturers now offer low-sodium options. The benefits of frozen and canned veggies are their long shelf life, low cost, minimal preparation requirements, and versatility in a wide range of recipes. Peas, corn, and broccoli are my three favorite frozen food selections. In our home, tomatoes and artichoke hearts are canned winners. It is simpler to add some vitamins, minerals, and fiber to any meal when you have these on hand.
Snack more wisely
Even with my best efforts, some lunches and dinners still don’t have enough vegetables. Fine, that. I try to make sure I include some vegetables for snacks on days when time is extremely limited—my spouse is working late, I have a really hectic work day, or school is closed. I frequently eat cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola, energy bars, nuts and fruit, and yogurt and yogurt. I have to deliberately remember myself to pick vegetables. Don’t knock it until you try it: carrots and peanut butter, cucumber or bell pepper slices with hummus, and a cup of vegetable soup all make delicious snacks and help me increase my daily consumption of vegetables.
Utilize your slow cooker
I frequently picture enormous pieces of beef simmering in the slow cooker until they are soft. But lately, I’ve been using our slow cooker to prepare more dishes that feature vegetables. With two small children, the evenings are chaotic, but I frequently find a few minutes earlier in the day to chop some vegetables and toss them in my slow cooker.