Wood table with large cooking pot filled with vibrant red stew

Meal Plan Created By: Amanda Kostro Miller

Research shows that incorporating new foods into your diet can help make your lifestyle a little healthier.1,2 But trying new things takes effort, and who has the time these days to learn new recipes? To help you mix things up in the kitchen—and give your healthy diet a boost—we’re bringing you 12 months of healthy eating with handy cheat sheets, meal plans, and tips for making eating healthier a breeze. Each month, we’re serving up some helpful tricks for amping up the nutrients in your diet and spicing up your routine in the kitchen. Eating healthy can be fun! Plus, we’re throwing in a free, weeklong meal plan built by a Registered Dietician to start you on your path to pumped-up heart health.

ICYMI: 12 Months of Healthy Eating: 3-5 Ingredient Meals

It can be overwhelming to get started with cooking at home, which is why last month, we focused on recipes with only 3-5 ingredients. Another great way to cut down on cooking stress and make creating your own meals easier is to find recipes that simplify the cooking process itself. This month, we’re talking about heart-healthy one-pot meals. With only one dish to clean, these meals make eating healthier a fun and hassle-free experience. Ready to get started? Try our 7-day one-pot meal plan today!

Download The Printable Meal Plan 

Benefits Of One-Pot Meals

Cut Back on Clean-Up Time

One of the main reasons that Americans avoid making their own meals at home is that cooking takes time they often do not have.3,4,5 While simplifying recipes and planning ahead can help tremendously in this aspect, reducing clean-up time can also make it less time-consuming to cook at home.6 Nobody wants to have to clean up a whole pile of dishes after cooking just one meal, especially if you’re cooking for just one or two people. One-pot meals deliver on flavor, ease of cooking, and most importantly, on simplicity. Keeping your cooking to one dish cuts back on cooking time in a big way, meaning that you have more free time for everything else you need to get done.

Simplify the Cooking Process

Often, recipes for one-pot meals are inherently simpler than those which involve several pans, skillets, or dishes to make. This time-saving factor is exactly why casseroles became so popular in the 1950s.7 These days, the most popular way to cook food simply and quickly is with a pressure cooker or InstantPot.8 There are loads of resources available to help you find tried-and-true healthy recipes for your pressure cooker or InstantPot. While cooking in a pressure cooker or InstantPot can sometimes help with portion control, these are not the only ways to cook in a single dish.9 The key is to start with nutrient-dense ingredients. Then, play around with making nutritious one-pot meals in a mixing bowl, in a skillet, on a sheet pan, or even in a coffee cup! When you have access to a microwave, anything is possible! Quiche in a mug, anyone? Cutting back on complex cooking steps can make eating healthy at home a lot more approachable, efficient, and even fun.

Save Money While Eating Healthy

Though trendy diets sometimes make food that is good for you seem more expensive, you can actually save money while eating healthy. Making the choice to cook at home rather than eating prepared foods, takeout, or delivery not only improves your overall health, but also cuts back on unnecessary spending. That means that cooking for yourself is actually great for your wallet and your heart. One-pot meals often help stretch your servings, meaning that you can usually get more than one serving out of any given meal. More servings means more bang for your buck.

Related: Heart-Healthy Eating That’s Easy on the Wallet

Healthy Recipes for One-Pot Meals

Ready to get cooking? Many heart-healthy recipes are just as tasty as they are easy to make. Our week-long meal plan was developed by a Registered Dietician and is chock-full of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Best of all? Each recipe is packed with nutrients, good calories, and phenomenal flavor. Start your day with a mouth-watering banana french toast in a mug, indulge in the cheesy chicken and broccoli fettuccine, or keep it crisp with fresh pear and cabbage slaw. There are so many delicious options to try, and only one dish to clean per meal! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Craving more heart-healthy meal ideas? Download our heart-healthy cookbook for a dozen more quick and easy dinners to try out.

Risa Schulman

Ph.D

Risa Schulman, Ph.D. took her lifelong love of science, people and the fulfillment of potential to create a multifaceted career in R&D, business, health and wellness, and empowering individuals. 

References

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eating-the-same-thing-every-day-4-reasons-to-increase-variety/ 
https://time.com/3675098/healthy-diet-plans-variety/ 
3 Larson NI, Perry CL, Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Food preparation by young adults is associated with better diet quality. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:2001–2007. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2006.09.008.
4 Asp E. Factors affecting food decisions made by individual consumers. Food Policy. 1999;24:287–294. doi: 10.1016/S0306-9192(99)00024-X.
5 Share our Strength. It's Dinnertime: A Report on Low-Income Families' Efforts on Plan, Shop for and Cook Healthy. Share our Strength's Cooking Matters. 2012. pp. 1–54. (Insight A)
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/cook-at-home-this-week/art-20269951
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1989-03-02-fo-0-story.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/dining/instant-pot-electric-pressure-cooker-recipes.html
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-food-cooked-in-an-instant-pot-less-nutritious/

This article is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as or substituted for medical advice.  Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider with any questions about your health or a medical condition.  Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have read on the internet.