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We’ve all been there. You’ve had a long day at work, traffic is a disaster and your kids are starving. The last thing you want to do is go home and cook a full meal. So you think the easier option is to just hit the drive-thru. While that may be a quick option – fast food is high in sodium, processed ingredients and trans fats, not to mention lots of sugars and carbohydrates!  Who wants to eat that or feed it to their families?

Not us! That’s why we are here to tell you that cooking dinner doesn’t need to be a difficult task.

Why Do People Avoid Cooking?

In this day and age, it seems that a lot of people are avoiding cooking for themselves. That’s because, with all the cooking shows, recipe blogs and food pictures around it can be a little intimating if you don’t know where to start. Plus with some recipes out there, the long list of ingredients makes you think of the mess it may cause in your kitchen or the time it will take to prepare.

Well, here at Low Fat Low Carb we’re all about easy recipes, healthy dinner ideas for beginners and no messes!

Note: If you’re looking for some more complex recipes, try checking out this selection of dinner recipes.

Kitchen Gadgets & Helpful Hacks

Having a few helpful gadgets in your kitchen can help save you time and effort when preparing a healthy dinner. We love to use crock pots for a set and forget type of meal, food processors to help chop veggies easier, rice cookers to make brown rice or quinoa or a high-speed blender to make homemade sauces and soups.

To really get the most use out of your time in the kitchen, have a game plan!

Know what you are going to make beforehand, print out the recipe and make sure you have all your ingredients within reach. A huge time saver is cleaning as you cook. Don’t use every single bowl or utensil you have because you will spend most of your evening doing dishes and that just defeats the purpose of an easy, healthy meal, huh?

Get the whole family involved to save some time.If there’s a kid-friendly task in the recipe then let them do it – it makes a fun family activity, plus it’s one less thing you need to do!

Cooking Times

If you are totally new to cooking, a major thing to learn about is the different cooking times for different types of foods. There is nothing worse than when everything is done except for your potatoes that are still rock solid.

Complex carbohydrates such as rice or quinoa usually take about 30 minutes. Potatoes can take upwards of an hour to roast in the oven, while non-starchy vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms or onions usually take no more than 15. Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts usually take a minimum of 40 minutes but asparagus cooks in about 15 minutes. Greens such as spinach or kale are cooked within minutes in a stir fry!

Different types of meats are cooked at different times too. Steak can be barbecued relatively quickly while chicken usually takes a minimum of 20 – 30 minutes. Ground meats such as beef or turkey should ALWAYS be cooked thoroughly and this will take about 20 minutes or so. Fish tends to cook quicker at about 15 minutes in the oven or to fry up.

Cooking Methods

There are a few different ways to cook your vegetables and proteins. Boiling and steaming your vegetables is a popular method that doesn’t take too long. While roasting or baking them in the oven can give you a nice crunch but it does take a bit longer. Stir-frying in a pan with some oil is another option.

Meats can be cooked on the barbecue if you have extra time, but if you are on a time-crunch – frying on the stove may be faster. The oven can be used to cook certain cuts of meats as well so don’t forget about that option!

When preparing a dinner with different dishes, think about what should be prepared first. If your potatoes take the longest to cook, put them in the oven before chopping the vegetables for your salad. If you are stumped on a certain cooking method or step on your recipe, we have tons of tips and tricks here.

Tips for a QUICKER than Quick Healthy Dinner

You know those nights where you get home from at 5:00 and need to have your kids, husband and dog fed and be out the door by 6:00 to bring your kids to soccer practice?

Here are some tips to make that happen WITHOUT going through a drive-thru!

  • Know what you are going to make – check the fridge before work and see what ingredients you have on hand
  • Think about using any leftovers you have on hand from the night before
  • Set the crock pot so when you get home – dinner is ready to be eaten. We love this spicy pork recipe for a delicious, nutritious dinner!
  • The night before, chop up veggies, potatoes and even portion out your rice or quinoa to start cooking faster after you get in the door.
  • One-pan-meals can be your new best friend! Here’s a favorite of ours: Chicken & Roasted Vegetables

Just Cooking for Two?

We know it can be hard to get motivated to cook a healthy dinner for just you and your partner – but it doesn’t have to be!

Here are our top tips for cooking for two:

  • Get creative with your dinner recipes – easy doesn’t have to be boring
  • Cook the meal together and use it as a special date night in
  • Make a version of your favorite restaurant meal
  • Don’t worry about cooking too much food – leftovers make a great healthy lunch option

Now that you are ready to get into the kitchen, check out these easy dinner recipes!

Pork & Plums

This dish is both savory from the pork and sweet from the plums meaning your taste buds will be SATISFIED. It is packed with a whopping 24 grams of protein per serving which will help maintain (or even build) muscle and keep you fuller for longer – making you less likely to reach for dessert!

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce wraps

Move over carb filled fajitas – there’s a new dish in town! With a tangy buffalo sauce, fresh avocado and delicious ranch sauce you can’t go wrong with this dish. With the added avocado you are getting TONS of fiber and nutrients to be sure your health is in tip-top shape!

Chicken Tandoori Recipes

This chicken tandoori dish makes a great meal to make with your partner. Save money and have a blast cooking this meal. With tons of protein and healthy carbs, your waistline will be happy you didn’t go out to dinner!

Thai Green Curried Pork

Craving Thai food but don’t want to have take out? Well, this is the recipe for you. It’s spicy, packed with vegetables and super fun to make! Get your kids assistance on this one.

Happy Cooking!