Eating Healthy on a TIME Budget

This broccoli, tofu, and rice bowl tossed with cashews is a favorite quick meal at my house.

Cooking from scratch and reading labels are all well and good, but how can we eat healthy when we’re so often strapped for time?

We talked not too long ago about how to eat healthy on a budget, and Vikki, a reader at our Facebook page, mentioned that her big issue wasn’t just saving money but budgeting her time. It’s a really excellent point, especially if you do the typical 9-5 thing.

Between running this site, my crafty business, and other freelance obligations time isn’t always on my side, either, so I thought I’d share some tips on how I prepare healthy, quickie meals for my family.

Handy Appliances

There are two kitchen appliances that I could never live without during my busy times of year: my rice cooker with steamer basket and my crock pot. Let’s talk about both, because between the two you can really spend very little time in the kitchen and still eat quite well!

The rice cooker is for those days when I don’t even have time to plan meals ahead. There are two key things to remember about a rice cooker/steamer combo:

  1. You don’t have to cook rice in there. Pretty much any whole grain will do; just make sure you have the right grain to liquid ratio. I like making quinoa and wheat berries in my rice cooker!
  2. The steamer basket is key. Load that basket up with veggies and beans or tofu, and they’ll steam up while your grains are cooking.

That’s it! You can play with different combinations and either top with bottled sauce or something quick you whip up while the steamer is doing its thing. Either way, the rice cooker is a versatile and simple tool for making healthy weeknight meals with very little prep work on your part.

The crock pot is a similar “set it and forget it” situation. I highly recommend picking up a cookbook of slow cooker recipes if you’re new to the slow cooker. A good cookbook can help you get used to what sorts of meals go well in there.

In general, you can make tasty soups, stews, chilis, and even roasts in the slow cooker, you just need to remember to toss in the ingredients beforehand. Some slow cookers even have fancy timers, so you can set them to turn on and off to do the cooking while you’re at work. It’s always nice to come home to a fully cooked meal!

>>Next: Weekend Cooking

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5 thoughts on “Eating Healthy on a TIME Budget”

  1. Ok, now you’ve done it… rice cooker/ steamer is officially bumped up to top of wish list! :-)

    I second the motion, re: crock pots, and would like to add 2 things to the ‘time-saving gadget’ list for healthy/ fast meal prep… bread machine (can’t live without!!) and pressure cooker (just got/ love! cooks dry beans in NO TIME!!)… I also like smoothies, for breakfast & snacks: frozen banana, soy/ almond milk, glob o’ peanut butter, couple spoons of cocoa powder = 2-minute yum! Frozen berries & juice plus frozen bananas also work well…

    Stir-fries are also good, and really super EXTRA fast if you buy pre-chopped frozen veggies… move ’em from freezer to fridge the night before, then rinse/ drain before cooking… Saute in peanut or sesame oil, serve over rice or quinoa or rice noodles (which cook in 5 minutes!), top with peanuts or cashews or sesame seeds & your favorite sauce… yum & quick!

    As emergency ‘fast food’, I’m in love with roll-ups of Tofurky brand ‘italian sausage style’ links, on a tortilla with horseradish mustard & Daiya mozzarella, mic’d til melty… With chips/ crackers & whatever dip is leftover in the fridge (salsa, hummus, bean dip, etc), it’s practically ‘instant lunch!’

    Where I live, the summers are hideously hot, and even when I have *time* to cook, my a/c hates the extra work– the kitchen gets way to hot. So I love time-savers like this– thanks for posting! (Rice cooker added to basket.) :-)

      1. I like everything I’ve tried, by Field Roast, but idk if I’ve had the apple ones… will check ’em out– thanks!

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