Finding time to cook healthy meals can feel difficult even when the only things you’re balancing are your day job, your yoga addiction, and your Netflix queue. But throw a successful food blog, two cookbooks, a private chef gig, and two kids into the mix, and suddenly the equation is a whole lot more complicated.
That’s the math Sara Forte (of gorgeous recipe resource Sprouted Kitchen) is working with—and she’s the first to admit it’s not easy.
“It is all just one gigantic give-and-take,” Forte says. “I think we need to reframe the conversation to be about doing the best we can with the tasks at hand, on a day-to-day basis.”
And for Forte, cooking is always one of those tasks—with the help of a few genius strategies, of course. First and foremost: focusing on whole foods. “I love simple, wholesome food, not the fussy stuff, and I love to take care of people by feeding them,” she explains. “We eat a lot of seasonal vegetables and fruit, whole grains, eggs, fish, nuts, herbs…and I love a good feta.”
Here’s the good news: We teamed up with siggi’s (the Icelandic-style yogurt made with simple ingredients, and not much sugar) to bring some of Forte’s genius recipes to life. Stay tuned for a series of Well Done breakfast videos showing her most delicious creations in the weeks ahead—and try these meal-planning tips now.
Scroll down for 3 time-saving techniques for healthy, simple, no-fuss meals.
1. Batch-cooking is your BFF
Forte considers make-ahead meals a way to avoid “reinventing the wheel every time people need to eat”—which is basically music to any busy person’s ears. On top of freeze-ahead yogurt pops in the a.m. (recipe to come!) she employs an army of steady standbys to do the job.
“I make breakfast things for us every few days that save well—banana muffins, frittata cups, cut-up fruit, hard boiled eggs—so I can pull from there when I need to save time,” she says. “I [maintain] cooking windows where I make a lot that will save, and I keep a few salad-bar type salads in the fridge.”
Think: Hardy veggies that don’t wilt easily (like spiced carrot or chopped kale), plus homemade dressing. Says Forte: “Those staples help me to not have to cook every single meal.”
2. Keep your kitchen staples on point
On top of fruits, veggies, and grains, Forte keeps cheese and yogurt on lock for last-minute meal magic. “I like siggi’s for a handful of reasons—it’s so thick that even the nonfat versions taste rich and creamy,” she says. “I pay attention to additives and added sugars in food, and of all of the flavored yogurts, siggi’s has a concise ingredient list and small amount of sugar.”
How does it play into her daily menu rotation? As an easy granola-topped breakfast, a topping for curries and stews, and even dessert (seriously—try the strawberry rhubarb).
3. Multitask like a boss
Most importantly, don’t force yourself into marathon cooking sessions to make up for a week of takeout—just steal the moments you can. “[My husband] usually takes the kids down to the park close to our house before dinner so I can have some time to prep dinner in peace,” Forte says. “I try to multitask here too, maybe baking something for the morning at the same time or cutting up fruit so it’s ready in the fridge.”
The cookbook author also scours other recipe tomes and magazines for inspiration, bookmarking meals that will make for good leftovers. “It for sure takes forethought, but pays off in the end,” Forte says. “Our health is one of my top priorities, so I accommodate for that.”
Photo: Hugh Forte