We live in strange times. People today spend more time than ever watching other people cook on TV and less time than ever cooking in their own homes. A scientific survey published in the Nutrition Journal in 2013 reported that only 54 percent of american adults do any home cooking, an all-time low.
That’s unfortunate, because other research suggests that people who cook more eat healthier. A 2014 study at the University of Washington, for example, found that frequent home cooks ate significantly more fruit and vegetables compared to others.
Lack of time is the most commonly cited reason for not cooking. As a runner, you may feel even more time-crunched than people who aren’t trying to squeeze workouts into their day along with everything else. But as a runner, you also need the dietary control that comes with home cooking more than others.
A higher-quality diet won’t just make you healthier but will also improve your running. A reluctant cook myself, I’ve learned really doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to prepare healthy meals at home.
Here are three helpful tricks I’ve picked up to help you cook more, run faster:
1. Start simple (and stay simple)
A recipe doesn’t have to be complicated to be healthy and delicious. Some meals are so easy to prepare, it almost feels like cheating to make them. Build your comfort level and confidence in the kitchen by starting your cooking journey with a single recipe that includes just a few familiar ingredients, takes mere minutes to put together, and requires no fancy techniques.
Once you’ve mastered it, add a second easy recipe to your repertoire, and so on. There’s no need to ever graduate to more complex recipes if you don’t wish to.
Need any idea? Try the Garden Minestrone with Kale from my Racing Weight Cookbook.
2. Let others do the prep work for you
The supermarkets that sell the food we buy and the companies that make the food that supermarkets sell are well aware that people today are busy and have little time for cooking.
To meet the demand for products that save time without sacrificing quality, they are coming up with more and more offerings that marry healthiness and convenience. Take advantage of these options, which include pre-chopped vegetables, fresh minced garlic, and microwavable brown rice.
3. Keep your kitchen stocked with staples
Some nutritionists advise home cooks to plan all of their meals in advance. But to me this feels like just another obligation.
I’d rather wing it. An alternative to setting aside time for planning is to keep your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator well stocked with versatile staple foods that you can throw together to make a meal on the spur of the moment.
Your list of staples need not be long. There’s nothing wrong with eating the same foods frequently as long as they are healthy foods. My kitchen staples include frozen vegetables of various kinds, frozen fish, fresh onions and minced garlic, brown rice and quinoa, bullion, and basic seasonings (salt, pepper, etc.).
Some runners love cooking. Others don’t. But every runner loves getting faster, and cooking is an effective means to that end.
Use this idea as motivation to get started, and use the tips I’ve given you to build momentum.