Most people instinctively know that the standard American diet is unhealthy. They realize that fast food, processed food, and a few fruits and vegetables is not the correct diet to be eating. Unfortunately, they have bought into the myth that a healthy diet is expensive and time consuming to maintain.
They continue eating the processed food because they are afraid that a whole food diet will be difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, that does not have to be the case. Here are some ways that you can integrate a vegetarian whole foods diet into a busy lifestyle.
It is an inescapable fact that a vegetarian whole foods diet does require more work than processed food. It takes more time to cook vegetable soup from scratch than it does to heat up a can of soup. While obviously the nutritional benefits make this time well spent, many people have difficulty finding that time. One option is to plan ahead so that you can cook on days when you have time. Plan simple meals such as sandwiches or salads for busy days, then set aside some time to cook on days that you are less busy. This will allow you to maintain a varied diet and free you from feeling like you have to cook every single day.
One way to drastically cut the amount of time that is required to prepare whole foods is to do all of the prep work at once. When you get home from the grocery store try to wash and bag all of the fruits and vegetables at once. You can even chop or dice some of the fruits and vegetables and store them that way. This reduces the amount of time that will be required when you do want to cook. After all, it is much easier to think about making a salad when the lettuce and tomatoes are already washed and chopped and the dressing is made. After that all you need to do is put it all together and add a few toppings. Doing this prep work ahead of time makes it easier to put together meals when you are ready to cook.
Along the same lines, it is often less time consuming to cook ahead when you do it in batches. There are a wide variety of foods that lend themselves to being cooked ahead of time. One easy food to cook in bulk is beans. When you are starting with dry beans it is just as easy to cook one cup as to cook ten cups. If you cook large amounts of beans you can store them in containers or bags and freeze them in small amounts. That way when you need them all you need to do is pull out a container of beans that is already cooked. Rice can also be cooked this way. Cooking five cups of brown rice is not any more difficult than cooking one cup, but the other four cups can be saved for later use.
One last solution for busy people is to cook so that they have leftovers. If you make a salad one day, take the rest of it to work for lunch the next day. If you make vegetable soup or a rice dish, make enough to have some to eat the next day. This will allow you to stretch your time in the kitchen so that you can get more than one meal out of each cooking session.