Quick & Healthy Meal Preparing Options for a Balanced Diet

A busy lifestyle means you have little time for cooking or choosing meals. Thus, it would help if you had some quick options to get your daily food. And the opinions that healthy food is only those you cook at home are wrong. Luckily there are many options for preparing a healthy meal, and many of them don't require hours in the kitchen.

Modern food deliveries are doing a great job of providing healthy and organic meals in no time. There's another quick and easy option to get balanced meals - you can order special boxes with ingredients and recipes for the week ahead to cook at home without difficulties.

Still, be it food delivery or home cooking, there's a way to maintain a balanced diet even with the busiest lifestyle. Mixing all quick food options can save more time for your professional growth or personal life. Now let's compare three main meal preparing options to define which one will fit your lifestyle.

Cooking at home

Cooking at home is an outstanding choice not only because you fully control the ingredients of your meals but also due to some health and productivity-related reasons:

  1. It lowers your total calorie intake. A study has shown people who regularly cook dinner eat less than those who cook rarely.
  2. It helps you stick to a healthier diet. Dieticians state those older people who don't cook food are too dependent on processed and refined foods. That also refers to some adults, who tend to order pizza instead of cooking a wholesome dinner.
  3. It can enhance your mood. That's right - cooking can make you happy! Amazing chicken smell from the oven, crunchy and fresh green veggies, adding spices that make you feel like a chef. These activities stimulate your senses, and your body produces endorphins, making you relaxed and happier.
  4. It helps you fight stress. Suppose you have difficulty managing your job or feel depressed. In that case, cooking is also a great way to soothe stress and release anxiety. During the cooking process, you strongly focus on following the recipe, and your negative thoughts fade away, clearing your mind.


All these benefits prove regular cooking is among the best options for maintaining a healthy diet. Still, each coin has two sides, and cooking is no exception. Despite all the fantastic benefits of cooking at home, it may be a bad option for some people due to these reasons:

  1. It's time-consuming. Some dishes need long preparation, while cooking may take more than an hour. Add your shopping time, and that's too much! If you always have plans, cooking won't be a decent time-saving choice.
  2. It can be too hard. Sometimes, ordering a meal is much easier than preparing it yourself. That includes some tasty Thai kitchen dishes, cooked meat dishes, or legumes. Besides, specific recipes are too hard unless you're a chef.
  3. Not everyone loves it. At some point, cooking is like a hobby that some people may enjoy or not. And if you're not fond of it, you'll be annoyed in the process, so it's better to choose another food preparing option.

Buying pre-made food

Even though we all love freshly prepared homemade food, you would grab a frozen pizza for lunch in the busy pace of life and then make a risotto. Of course, that's not so troublesome if you do this trick weekly. But when eating frozen or refined pre-made meals becomes your habit, it's a wake-up call to change your diet.

photography of vegetable salad on plate

Indeed, you don't have time to check the nutrition facts of each meal you order. But you can order foods from manufacturers that choose organic and wholesome ingredients. You can save time and still eat healthy food, which benefits your stamina. So, what are the pros of buying pre-made food?

  1. It's time-saving in terms of preparation. Pre-made food is the quickest way to prepare your meal. Your lunch is ready after a few minutes in the microwave or oven! No shopping lists, malls, or lengthy preparations.
  2. It makes your diet diverse. If you're not so good at cooking, pre-made food can deliver you more nutrients than a homemade one (excluding the cases with frozen pizza or nuggets)
  3. It's quickly available. Anytime when you realize you have no time for cooking, pre-made foods come to the rescue! You can preorder meals for the week ahead and freeze them so you'll always get a wholesome meal at hand. Or you can order a quick delivery - it may still be faster than home cooking.

Foods such as pancake mixes, frozen pastry, and chicken nuggets are high in fat and sodium. Research has shown working people are the primary consumers of pre-made foods. So the trick is picking the right pre-made food for the meal. And what if you don't care about the choice? Then you may face such issues because of buying pre-made foods:

  1. It's high in salt, sodium, fat, and calories. Almost 75% of sodium in an average person's diet comes from pre-made and processed foods. Suppose you refuse to choose healthy pre-made foods. In that case, you'll face kidney and digestive disorders, get extra weight and become low on energy.
  2. It's lower in macro and micronutrients. So unless you choose healthy pre-made foods, it lacks the vitamins and nutrients you find in homemade cooking due to the high processing levels.
  3. It was expensive. Due to the delivery and preparation fees, ordering pre-made meals can be way more costly than cooking at home or eating out (still, it saves your time).

bread in grey wooden ltable

Buying takeaway

What is better than having a delicious meal in your favorite restaurant? Of course, having this meal without going anywhere! In a busy world, ordering takeaway has become the most popular choice among career professionals.

More than 60% of US residents order takeaway at least once weekly. And that's not surprising since takeaway meals are more delicious than any pre-made foods. So why do so many people choose to buy takeaway?

  1. It's time-saving. The takeaway is an outstanding meal option if you don't need to cook anything. Delivery will take around half an hour, and you won't need to clean the dishes — throw away the packages. Consider it as an instant but balanced meal.
  2. It's delicious and filling. Restaurant meals have huge portions and different macronutrients. Thus, it will satisfy your hunger better than quick homemade lunch or pre-made foods from the shop near your office.
  3. It's cheaper in some cases. Ordering takeaway will cost you less than cooking the same meals at home. Moreover, you won't have any leftovers and will pay less for your bills (if you choose not too expensive restaurants).
  4. It's convenient. Takeaway foods, by their qualities, are incredibly close to meals served in restaurants. Also, due to the unique packaging, takeaway food will be as hot and fresh as if it came from the kitchen.

vegetable salad with grilled salmon

Like any food you haven't prepared, takeaway also has disadvantages. Takeaway meals make us order more because we can easily reach them. And when you get used to this quick eating option, ordering takeaway becomes your bad habit. Thus, let's discover why it can be unhealthy for you.

  1. It can be terrible for your waistline. Some takeaway meals, especially those you order from cheap restaurants, are high in fats and calories. Besides, consider the huge portions, which makes takeaway a perfect occasion to gain extra weight.

Remember that any meal preparation option can be beneficial and unhealthy for your diet. For example, research says that choosing an unhealthy takeaway puts your health in danger. Some takeaway meals like pizzas or french fries contain tons of "bad" cholesterol. Regularly consuming them can cause diabetes or severe heart diseases.

Simultaneously, you can order super-healthy meals as takeaway, for instance, a salad with boiled chicken or a casserole with cauliflower and beans. So everything depends solely on your choice.

Recipe boxes: a middle ground between a healthy, time-saving, and balanced diet

Suppose you're not feeling like a chef (or just being a bit too lazy to go shopping or choose recipes) but would enjoy some delicious home cooking. Is there a quick and convenient meal preparation option for you?

Yes, and we have an outstanding solution for you — recipe boxes! They've become a real boom recently, not just because of a global pandemic but primarily due to their ultimate convenience. But what is so special about recipe boxes?

Recipe boxes are delivered to your doorstep, including a selection of certain foods and recipes for cooking. They include a precise amount of ready-to-cook ingredients, so you have everything for cooking your meal right away. What's more, you get recipes with detailed steps to follow. So you can prepare the most complicated meals even if you're not so good at cooking.

salad in the plate

By choosing recipe boxes, you can:

  • Save time on cooking preps, shopping, and picking recipes
  • Enjoy fresh and quickly-made homemade meals
  • Control what you put on your plate, from ingredients to spices
  • Avoid wasting time on planning meals ahead
  • Create a heart-warming family tradition to cook together.

Freeze your meals for a week ahead

Another quick option to pack yourself with healthy meals is freezing them for a week ahead. Indeed, it takes some time on the weekend to cook, but for the rest of your week, you'll need to heat them and enjoy homemade cooking. By freezing your meals, you can foster healthy eating habits and refuse to eat cheat meals when you don't have time to cook.

And don't worry that freezing will soak off all wholesome nutrients from your meals. Numerous studies have proven foods retain their flavor, taste, and texture when frozen. But be careful — you can freeze not every meal. For example, cooked eggs, cream soups, cooked pasta or rice, sauces, cucumber, and lettuce are among those products that taste awfully after freezing.

Although, there are plenty of meals that you can quickly freeze and reheat without sacrificing their taste. Cooked meat like chicken or patties is as juicy and delicious after defrosting as if you cooked them a moment ago.

You can freeze ready-made oatmeals with berries and fruits and reheat them in a microwave for a healthy breakfast. Most veggies are also suitable for freezing — ensure you cook them before. Baked foods like pies, muffins, and biscuits taste great after defrosting; they're not so wholesome for your diet.

Here is the short list of great meals you can freeze for a week ahead:

  • Oatmeal yogurt pancakes
  • Breakfast wraps with cheese, tomatoes, bacon, and crumbled eggs
  • Roasted carrots, broccoli, chickpeas, and beans with a few slices of turkey Banana muffins with almonds and walnuts
  • Quinoa with roasted chicken and zucchini

pancakes on the plate

And if you want to supply yourself with overwhelmingly delicious homemade meals for a week ahead, follow our easy hints.

Tips for freezing your meals

  • Undercook your meal ingredients a bit to avoid overcooking later. Such meals include pasta, potato, and other veggies
  • Freeze only cold meals. Putting hot dishes in your freezer can make the whole freezer temperature higher, so other products may spoil
  • Freeze your meals in airtight packages so they won't break occasionally Package meals into portions so you can take them as a to-go lunch or give them to one of your family members
  • When reheating frozen meals, choose the particular microwave program not to overheat them. Typically, a defrosting program cooks at 25% of the average microwave power
  • Put labels on your meals. In a rush, you won't remember when the particular meal was prepared and frozen. Thus, by making labels, you'll never eat a spoiled meal
  • When reheating the meal on a pan, use less oil. You need to defrost it, not get it soaked in fat.

meals in boxes

Choose a cafe with a healthy menu near your office

Getting a wholesome meal during the short lunch break can be challenging, so most people tend to grab some quick burgers or pastries. But as we mentioned before, such a diet is dreadful for your energy and health. Thus, we have a more beneficial option if you want to eat healthily.

Choose the cafe near your office that offers at least one balanced meal that's not too fatty or calorie-dense. Visit this cafe when you have no time to prepare your lunch home. You can even preorder the table and let the waiter know you're visiting them at certain hours. It will help you save time and focus on your work tasks.