Cooking at Home Can Save Your Life… Prep Day Part 2

When life gets busy what tends to be the first thing to go?  For me, it is making healthy food choices and home-cooked meals. I suspect for many of you it is the same.  We turn to the drive-through, take out menus, restaurants and convenience stores to get our quick fix of a meal as we are an on the go.  But could your eating away from home be effecting your waistline and health?

Unfortunately yes! Eating one meal away from home each week translates to roughly 2 pounds of weight gained each year by the average consumer. That statistic from the USDA shocked me! That one additional meal eaten away from home increases the daily intake by about 134 calories. One hundred calories may not seem like a big deal, but when 50 percent of meals were eaten away from home in 2010 compared to 2 percent in 1990, we are consuming way more than 134 extra calories per day! Beyond your waistline there seems to be many more benefits to eating meals at home as Dr. Hyman so eloquently wrote about last year in his Huffington Post blog.

Chana masala dinner served on our 8 inch plates.

Last week our wellness group used our new kitchen in our clinic. They were practicing their cooking skills and taking our 2o Minute Meal Challenge. A challenge to cook a healthy vegetarian meal under 20 minutes and have it still be yummy! Boy-oh-boy did they succeed, it took the group less than 20 minutes to prepare a popular Indian chickpea dish know as Chana Masala served over brown rice with a pear and walnut salad.

Shopping and preparing meals takes time — something people simply don’t feel they have these days. Well I would like to challenge that and offer a solution that has worked for hundreds of my patients as they reclaim their kitchens and cook good tasting meals at home. Prep-Day is time dedicate each week to plan, shop and prepare your food for the week. I guarantee it will save you time and allow you to enjoy yummy meals all week long at home. The key to Prep-Day is to consistently incorporate it into your week, every week!

Our Wellness & Lifestyle group was able to complete our 2o Minute Meal Challenge because they used the key components of Prep-Day. They were able to make a meal for 10 people in less than 20 minutes because of these key steps: (1) Planned a menu and choose recipes ahead of time (2) shopped for all the ingredients on the list and (what I feel is the most crucial step, but most of us skip) (3) prep all the ingredients ahead of time (chop/dice/open/grate etc). Once you do all those steps it is just tossing ingredients into pots or bowls. Voila! You have dinner on the table for 10 in less than 20 minutes.

My Challenge for you this week is to choose a date and time to incorporate Prep-Day. You may even start by using our 2o Minute Meal Challenge  recipes.

Chana Masala

Ingredients: 1 large onion; 4 large tomatoes; 1 can tomato paste; 3- 12 oz can chickpeas; fresh garlic (1-2 cloves); fresh ginger grated; 2 Tbsp Ketchup;  Chana Masala (pre-mixed spice purchased in any Indian grocer); 2 lemons/limes; brown rice; olive oil

Serves: 4

Step 1: Prep-Day – pre chop/dice/grate ingredients.

Step 2: prepare brown rice (about 1/2 cup per person), we used a rice cooker

Step 3: Sautee diced onions on low-medium heat for 5 minutes in oilve oil.

Step 4: Add garlic & ginger – be generous.

Step 5: Strain chickpeas and add them along with the diced tomatoes.

Step 6: Add most of small can of tomato paste.

Step 7: Add salt, ketchup, lemon/lime juice. Add Chana Masala to taste, the more you add the spicier the dish.

Step 8: Let simmer for 5-10 minutes and then serve over cooked brown rice.

Walnut & Pear Salad

Ingredients: Salad: 4 cups baby field greens; 2 cups romaine lettuce; 2 ripe pears; 3/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts Dressing: 5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar; 2-3 Tbsp olive oil; 2 Tbps dijon mustard; salt/pepper to taste

Step 1:  Combine vinegar, and mustard, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Step 2: Combine lettuces ; top with pear and walnuts. Drizzle dressing evenly over salad and toss.

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4 Responses to Cooking at Home Can Save Your Life… Prep Day Part 2

  1. Howard says:


    This both looks and sounds fantastic…and prep and planning is such and important ingredient (pun intended) in altering our behavior around the food we eat toward a more healthy and nutritious lifestyle. All the best…


  2. margie @ says:

    Oh, I’m sure people can gain a couple pounds a week depending on where they’re dining out and what they’re eating. I have family members who are too lazy to cook for themselves and whenever they’re pressed for time, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Oh, I’ll just go pick something up,” aka fast food.

    Not only is fast food dangerous and lacking in flavor, but I don’t necessarily think it’s all that convenient. How easy is it to just make yourself a healthy sandwich at home? Now that’s fast food, and it’s much easier than getting in the car, driving to the burger joint, ordering, waiting in line and driving back home to eat food that’s been sitting under warmers for who knows how long?

    Being able to fix yourself something delicious, like this, in a short amount of time is truly empowering in so many ways!

    • Margie,
      You are so right on with your comment! There are hundreds of quick, yummy dishes that anyone can make. Keep a look out for my post next week, I talk about healthy meals and snacks while traveling. There are healthy foods when you are out to eat, you just have to look and ask for them.

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