Eating Healthily When You Don’t Cook

Lots of families have been telling me they want to eat healthier, but they really do not cook. Either they don’t like to cook or do not know how to cook. Can you eat healthy if you don’t cook? The answer to that question is yes, but it may take more planning and just a wee bit of food preparation. This article contains suggestions for shopping and preparing meals that require almost no cooking.

Eating together is one of the most important things for happiness and family bonding. So clean off those tables and make an effort every day to eat together as a family. You will be happy that you did.

Shopping for Little or No Cooking

The first step in eating healthier is shopping healthier. Here are some items that require little or no food preparation and are easy and healthy.

Fruit
  • Buy a little fresh fruit like a few bananas, grapes, apples, or watermelon. This can be cut up for your toddler very easily and added to a sandwich meal to increase nutrition.
  • Keep a couple of cans of fruit on hand too. My kids like mandarin oranges, peaches, pineapple and pears. Try buying it on sale and in its own juice.
  • 100% juice like WIC juice
Vegetables
  • Some vegetables don’t require much cooking. Try buying some baking potatoes, a couple of sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
  • If your kids are old enough for raw vegetables, try some carrots, peppers, and celery.
  • The next best thing to fresh vegetables is frozen vegetables. They are super easy to cook too. I usually keep a bag of corn, peas, and broccoli on hand.
Proteins
  • It is easy for most families to keep milk, cheese and yogurt on hand.
  • Eggs
  • A can or two of tuna and salmon
  • Meat—this is a bit tricky because meat has to be cooked. Start with hamburger, and chicken.
Grains
  • Try keeping bread, tortillas, pasta, rice, and maybe some crackers on hand.
  • Cold or hot cereal is always easy.

Little-Cook Dinner Meal Ideas for Your Family

No cook meals for breakfast and lunch are a bit easier than no-cook meals for dinner. Think of these ideas for breakfast and lunch: hot or cold cereal, scrambled egg, toast plain or with melted cheese, sandwiches of all types, yogurt, pancakes, and waffles. Don’t forget to add a fruit or a vegetable. Add a small cup of juice, or some of the cut up fresh or canned fruit. (if your child is ready) Use the raw vegetables as a side dish to sandwiches.

Now let’s tackle dinner. Here are 2 suggestions:

Dinner #1
  • Roasted whole chicken
  • Buttered noodles or rice
  • Broccoli (fresh or frozen) with melted cheese on top
  • Cut up fruit or canned fruit
  • Milk or water to drink
  • Instant chocolate pudding for dessert
Dinner #2
  • Baked potato stuffed with cheese and broccoli
  • Cut up fruit
  • Milk or water to drink
  • Cookie for dessert

Early Head Start 
Nutrition News

October 2007

From your nutritionist, Ann