11 Ways to Get Dinner on the Table in Half the Time When Living with RA
Preparing a meal after a long day or during an RA flare-up can be daunting. These tips will help simplify the task so making a healthy dinner is a breeze! One of the best ways to cut down on the time it takes to make a meal is to find ways to shorten the prep time. Not only does it save time and energy – but it also gives your joints the break they need! Check out these helpful hints for making a meal quickly and painlessly.
11 tips to make dinner easier with RA
1. Use steamed vegetable packets from the freezer section of your grocery store – these will allow you to steam your vegetables quickly and easily in the microwave. As an added bonus you don’t have to wash or cut them.
2. Slow cooking! Get your crock-pot out and make a soup, bean or chicken dish. Throw your ingredients in the pot in the morning and voila! Dinner is ready by the time you come home. Just remember to start with food from the fridge –no frozen or partially thawed meats. It’s better to have cut up pieces of meat or poultry to ensure safe cooking temperatures. You can buy chopped meat or ask the butcher to cut it how you like it. Make sure you’re covering the food with liquid so it can cook thoroughly. If you have two temperature settings with a timer start with a higher temperature first before switching to a lower temperature; that will make sure it cooks safely and keep warm until you arrive home.
3. Buy pre-cut vegetables – this will save you time and prevent pain if your hands tend to stiffen with movements like chopping. It may cost a little bit more – but remember you’re getting fresh vegetables on the plate in half the time, which is worth more to your health!
4. Try a no-cook meal twice a week. Not every meal has to be baked or steamed. Enjoy a nice easy meal of salads, fresh vegetables, canned tuna (once a week), cold chicken, bean dips and reduced-fat cheeses and fruit for dessert. Think of it as a picnic at your table.
5. Perfect protein. Eggs can be made into any number of quick, healthy and delicious meals. Use some of the pre-cut veggies and mix them with some scrambled eggs, low-fat cheddar and a dash of cumin for a southwestern scramble! Another easy egg meal is frittatas prepared in muffin pans. Be sure to use skim milk and reduced-fat cheese, and herb accents like chives for a flavor boost to keep the meal heart healthy. What’s great is you can keep these in the fridge for 3 days, reheat and have a ready-to-eat meal.
6. Cook up big batches. Next time you cook a meal, make double and freeze half. Later in the week, all you have to do is heat up your own frozen meal and you’ll be at the dinner table in no time. Always label and date stored food. Then dedicate a freezer shelf to ready-to-go meals to keep things organized and prevent food waste.
7. Buy a roasted chicken at the grocery store. This is a great way to get a nutritious part of your meal done without the hours it takes to prepare yourself. Add some steamed vegetables and brown rice to make it a meal.
8. Speaking of brown rice, rice cookers can make life a whole lot easier. You can use them for whatever grain you are preparing – quinoa, couscous, faro – you just throw in the grain with the water and you don’t have to think about it until you are ready to serve!
9. Mix it up! Take advantage of some of the tasty prepared frozen meals offered by stores like Trader Joe’s that don’t contain extra additives or a long list of chemical ingredients – but mix in your own fresh touch. Try a frozen veggie pizza, and make a fresh salad to go with it.
10. Get creative! Eating the same thing two or three nights in a row can get boring. Try revamping leftovers into a new and improved dish. Rice and beans can become a burrito, leftover turkey meat sauce can become a sloppy joe, yesterday’s roasted veggies can be mixed with goat cheese and stuffed in a whole-wheat tortilla for a wrap. It will feel like a whole new dish in a matter of minutes!
11. Eating out is also an option! Give yourself a break every now and then, but choose healthy, quicker meals, like fish tacos, or tray line assembly meals. Chains like Chipotle have healthy options like the vegetarian bowl which you can load up with beans, brown rice, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and just a little cheese and sour cream as accents.
Now you have the tools you need to make eating healthy an easy and manageable part of your life. Living with RA can be challenging – eating nutritious meals will help make you feel better in every part of your life.
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