Home cooking made easySodium, fat, and sugar: Three sins restaurant and take-out meals are famous for. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost: Personal finance experts estimate that many American households could save thousands each year by simply eating out only once a month. We won’t even discuss average portion sizes of most prepared foods.

While it’s fine to eat out once in a while, we all know it’s something we shouldn’t do very often. There’s just one problem with that scenario: It relies on your ability to prepare your own food. The truth is, important as knowing how to cook is, it doesn’t have to be difficult, or time-consuming.

Home Cooking Can Be Easy!

The first perception shift you must make is to stop thinking of yourself as a cook, but rather as an assembler. As an assembler, your job is not to spend three hours whipping up a delicious spinach soufflé, but rather to quickly combine a few healthy foods into a dish you and your family can eat —tonight.

Here are the basic components an assembler needs to have at her fingertips:

Protein

Boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breast, lean ground beef, tofu, fish, even just a can of beans or some egg substitute is fine.

Vegetables

Fresh or frozen spinach, baby carrots, asparagus, broccoli, peas, green beans, eggplant, fresh salad greens—the list of delicious produce you can throw into a meal is endless.

Starch

Potato, couscous, whole-wheat pasta, beans (yes, they are a starch and a protein), brown rice, or tortillas.

Now you can assemble!

Egg substitute + sautéed asparagus and spinach + sliced potatoes = Egg frittata (15 minutes)
Lean ground beef + canned tomatoes + a can of black beans and kidney beans = Chili (10 minutes)
Goat cheese + sauteed mushrooms and avocado slices + flour tortilla = Quesadilla (7 minutes)

It really is that easy. As you become a champion assembler, you’ll find yourself experimenting with different combinations and will invent even more dishes. You’ll also start to get more exotic with flavorings and seasonings—adding a dash of hot pepper, some curry powder, or other herbs like rosemary, basil, and cilantro. These will take your dishes to an even more delicious level, and will give you added health benefits as well.

As your confidence grows, one day you may realize you’re no longer an assembler, but rather a chef —and that it feels pretty good!

 
 

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