Healthy cooking is a great thing, but it’s hard to plan and cook healthy meals every single night.

Sometimes you’ve had a long day at work, or the kids have worn you to a frazzle. Sometimes you’re overwhelmed by life and just don’t have the energy to plan and whip up a healthy dinner. It happens whether you’re married or single and whether or not you have kids to feed.

When you have one of those evenings, it often leads to dining out at a casual eatery, ordering a pizza, running to a fast food restaurant, or opting for some other high-calorie choice. It’s okay if that happens once in a while, but if it’s becoming the norm, you may want to consider creative solutions to the “Nope, I’m not cooking tonight” syndrome.

Alternate Making Dinner with a Friend

Why not intermittently trade healthy dinners with a friend so you have an occasional break from cooking, but still enjoy a good, home cooked meal? Of course, you and your friends can have dinner parties and host meals, but it’s a lot of work to have company over. That’s especially true if you have children, but it’s still an effort even if you’re single or just have a partner.

As an alternative, simply cook up two meals when you’re making your dinner one night and drop off the second meal at your friend’s home. Be sure to make enough to feed her whole household. Then have her do the same for you within the next week, or whatever time frame you agree on. It’s not a lot of work to double up on your recipes, and it gives you each a night off while still ensuring that you and your family have a healthy, hearty meal.

Join Up with a Friend and Make Meals (and Memories) Together

Just a few years ago, do-it-yourself meal prep businesses were all the rage. You went to the prep place and used its fully equipped kitchen and food supplies to make several day’s worth of dinners. Then you brought them home, popped them in the fridge or freezer, and took them out each day for a healthy but simple to make meal.

Many of those businesses went under once the craze passed, but you can still set up your own meal preparation session with a friend. If you don’t have a meal prep business nearby, do it in one of your homes. Take turns hosting the meal prep day so you’re doing it in your kitchen one month and at your friend’s home the following month.

The great thing about making food with a friend is that it turns a chore into a social occasion. You’ll have a lot of fun cooking together, and the clean-up will be easier when you scour the kitchen as a team.

If you have children, they can have a play date while you’re working. If you and your friend are adventurous and the kids are old enough, they can even help. It’s a great opportunity to teach them hands-on about healthy food choices, and they’ll be more likely to eat the meals when they’ve helped to prepare them.

Go out for a Healthy Dinner with a Friend

Sometimes going out is a nice option when you need a break and want to treat yourself. Unfortunately, you might not make the best restaurant choice. If you commit to eating out with a friend every now and then, you can each be accountable to the other for choosing a healthy eatery. This is an especially good way to stay on track if you’re single.

You can set up a regular night to eat out with your friend on a weekly or monthly basis. You can either go dutch or alternate treating each other. The only steadfast requirement is picking the healthiest possible dining spot.

Even if you don’t have restaurants that cater to health-conscious diners nearby, just about every restaurant has some healthy choices on its menu. When you team up with a friend, you have someone to call you out if you’re tempted by that big, juicy burger with a large order of french fries and to redirect you to a better choice, like the grilled chicken sandwich (hold the bun for an even healthier meal).

As the Bible tells us:

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance. Proverbs 27:17

In other words, you can do a good job with healthy meals on your own, but everything’s a little bit easier with a friend. Use these strategies to give yourself a break once in a while and you’ll still be eating right and enjoying some companionship at the same time.

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