If you’re looking to start eating healthier and building better habits, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve put together a list of my favorite simple tricks to make healthy cooking easier. As in 30 seconds easier.

Soup au pistou prep in a bag

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How To Cook Healthy: 10 Easy Hacks

As someone who cooks for a living, one may think I have it together at dinner time every night.

Let’s be real. I don’t have it together! I do meal plan but there are plenty of times when I need all the help I can get.

So today I wanted to talk about a few “cheats” that I have up my sleeve that help me do the whole healthy-cooking-thing night after night. I also want to share some ways to incorporate fresh seasonal produce into our dinners with little effort.

Usually I focus my attention on one part of the meal, say making this tarragon and lemon roasted spatchcock chicken. Then I will throw together a salad or steam some brown rice with a little this or that added in.

And also how I systematize and streamline the whole cooking from scratch thing!

Here is my list of ten things that are 30 second tips, tools and cheater ingredients to make healthy cooking easy. I really want to hear from you too. Do you have any good tips to share? I would love to hear from you.

1. Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

This is the original cheater ingredient that my mom always had on hand. It’s like salt plus flavor. My mom used it in her salad dressings: Olive oil, vinegar, a clove of crushed garlic and Krazy Janes. That’s it. Easy Peasy. No excuses, and no weird stuff in it.

I always have it on hand. I had it on my egg this morning. I steam broccoli, drizzle on some good olive oil and sprinkle on the Krazy Janes.

2. Purchased Spice Blends

If you have been reading here for a while then you know I call for spice blends in my recipes quite a bit. From Italian Seasoning Blend, Herbs de Provence, Cajun Spice or Greek Seasoning, I love using these all-in-one spice blends. I enjoy Teeny Tiny Spice Company and these awesome ones from Urban Accents.

In addition to sides, I also use them to make the main event too. Like in Garlic Herb Chicken marinade or for Cajun Grilled Flank steak.

3. Micro-plane zester

Adding a little lemon or citrus zest to steamed vegetables adds flavor without calories. It takes thirty seconds to do it, and it makes otherwise boring sides taste great. I also use my Microplane Zester to grate ginger  or garlic into a dressing/marinade. I also use it for Parmesan and ginger.

4. Immersion blender or mini prep for salad dressings

I always make dressing from scratch because it is much cheaper and tastes infinitely better than store bought. But to make it easier I only do it once or twice a week. I do a big batch in my mini prep food processor or with the immersion blender. Then I store it in the fridge in a jar. I use it for my lunch salads or for dinner.

The mini prep or immersion blender helps it keep its emulsion longer. FYI, a blender also works, but sometimes it is hard to get the mixture going because the blade is above the liquid level. The mini prep or immersion blender works no matter the size of the batch.

5. Produce bags

In case you hadn’t heard, we eat a ton of salad, so to make life easier I prep the lettuces when I bring them home from the farmers market or CSA or bring them in from the garden. I cut and wash them and then store them in produce bags.

Then when it comes time to make dinner I just dump the greens out of the bags into the bowl. Not just greens, but when I harvest vegetables and herbs from the garden I try to clean them and then put them into the bags ready to go so that dinner prep is faster.

You can rinse and dry them on a bag rack and re-use them over and over.

6. Soy Vay marinade

I don’t buy many sauces or things like this, but this is one that I really love. I really think this is a great prepared ingredient. It is really strong so you don’t need much, and it marinates quickly. OR, for beef and chicken you can leave it in for 12 hours.

I always have some on hand because it is one of those ingredients that works when you just don’t have time to deal. If I do have time to deal I like to make my own marinade from scratch in a big batch and then freeze smaller portions of it.

7. Canned Beans, Tuna and Canned Salmon

I eat canned tuna or salmon for lunch a few times a week. I have it with salad (of course) or just with crackers. I know this sounds really obvious. But having a stack of these in your pantry can really make a difference between eating a homemade healthy lunch and buying one.

I also stock canned chickpeas and beans too to make hummus and vegetarian dinners. Or to add protein to an salad or lunch. Keeping these shelf-stable healthy staples on hand makes a huge difference when you are in a rush or things don’t go as planned.

8. Ice cube trays

When you make pesto or chimichurri freeze tablespoon-fulls in the ice cube tray. Once it is frozen you can pop them out into a re-sealable freezer bag. They are great to pop into pasta or defrost and spread on pizza. Or to toss with steamed vegetables.

I also use the trays to freeze pureed canned chipotle in adobo sauce, tomato paste and when my girls were little, baby food. Now you can also buy Souper Cubes which come in all shapes and sizes for freezing Chicken Broth, soups and more!

9. Whole-wheat pizza crust

I keep a few balls of pizza dough in my freezer for fast dinners. I just defrost them a day ahead in the fridge. I also like a lot of the par-baked pizza crusts you can buy too! They also freeze beautifully!

I love using up odds and ends from my fridge to top pizzas. Even when the cupboard is bare, I will top the pizza with caramelized onions and shredded cheddar cheese. So yummy and easy and much healthier than greasy takeout.

10. Glass Snap Lock Storage containers

With all of that from-scratch cooking I am always strategizing for leftovers. I try to store leftovers in glass when I can so I really love these glasslock containers. My husband takes his lunch to work in them every day. When we clean up from dinner, I pack the left overs into a portion for his lunch right there on the spot.