10 Time-Saving Tips and Food Prep Hacks for Budget, Healthy Eating from an Online Dietitian


Our modern lives are characterized by a frenetic pace and an almost constant connection to the digital world. We find ourselves endlessly scrolling, liking, tweeting, and sharing, spending an average of 7 hours each day looking at a screen. We have entered the age of being plugged in.

Maybe because of our screen addiction, or other issues, we often neglect investing time in one of the most basic human needs – food. We are more likely to spend time looking at cat videos, checking the weather in faraway countries, or creating memes than preparing a quick, easy, healthy meal.

It’s time to shift our focus from screens to our health. (Just for a few minutes each day!) We need to take the time to prepare good meals for ourselves and our families, not only to prioritize our well-being but also to teach our children the value of sitting down at a table to share a nutritious meal. Eating nutrient-rich foods and practicing positive eating behaviors is the best way to stave off chronic disease (like type 2 diabetes), some cancers, and heart disease. It’s well worth our time!

Years ago some chefs clicked into the need for quick and healthy, like Jamie Oliver and his famous 30-minute meal series. Even 30 minutes feels like a stretch now. A 2014 New York Times article explored the question of whether to invest time or work when it comes to cooking, and the answer is clear: for everyday family meals, we must be more efficient. By becoming smart, methodical grocery shoppers and food preparers, we can take control of our health and well-being and stick to those diet plans to reach our weight loss goals.

Don’t despair; here are 10 simple tips and tricks to make meal planning and preparation easier. (And, they won’t break the bank!)


  1. Plan your meals ahead of time: Take a few minutes each week to plan your meals and snacks, and make a grocery list accordingly.
  2. Prep ingredients in advance: Chop vegetables, measure out ingredients, and marinate meats ahead of time to save time during meal preparation. (Like in those cooking shows. They have it all ready to dump and cook!)
  3. Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot: These appliances allow you to prepare healthy meals with minimal effort and time.
  4. Cook in batches: Double or triple recipes to have leftovers for the next day or freeze for future meals.
  5. Make use of leftovers: Use leftover veggies, grains, and proteins to make a quick and healthy stir-fry, salad, or wrap.
  6. Keep it simple: Choose simple recipes with few ingredients to cut down on prep and cooking time.
  7. Use frozen fruits and veggies: Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh and can save time on prep.
  8. Invest in quality kitchen tools: A good chef’s knife, cutting board, and non-stick pan can make meal preparation faster and easier.
  9. Buy pre-cut fruits and veggies and store-prepared guacamole and hummus. These are all easy and healthy snack options that require no prep time.
  10. Don’t be afraid of convenience foods: Choose healthy convenience foods like pre-cooked quinoa or canned beans to cut down on prep time without sacrificing nutrition.


Take a little extra time to be healthy! You and your family deserve it.


Chunky Chicken, Quinoa, and Black Bean Chili


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (such as peas, corn, and carrots)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Avocado, diced, for serving (optional)



  1. Turn on the Instant Pot and set to “saute” mode. Once hot, add the olive oil and chicken and cook until browned on all sides.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are softened.
  3. Add the cumin and smoked paprika and stir to coat the chicken and vegetables.
  4. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, quinoa, and chicken broth to the pot and stir to combine.
  5. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and stir to distribute them evenly throughout the mixture.
  6. Close the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 10 minutes.
  7. Once the cooking time is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before doing a quick release.
  8. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  9. Serve hot, topped with diced avocado if desired.