The $20 Kitchen Tool That Finally Helped Me Cook and Enjoy Healthier Meals
I don’t know how I ever lived without one before.
Eating healthy can be very difficult, especially when most healthy meal plans involve so much cooking. It can also be incredibly overwhelming when you look at all the prep work that goes into following a healthy lifestyle. You know that cooking at home is better for you, but you don’t want to end up eating a bland, soggy salad every day for lunch, or a piece of flavorless chicken and steamed veggies for dinner every night.
After many unsatisfying meals, and days of poor decisions, I finally found the solution to my dieting woes—the cast iron skillet. Yes, the same kitchen tool that makes pies and cornbread happens to be the one kitchen tool that completely changed my eating habits. I can’t believe it took me so long to get one, especially with how inexpensive it is. A 12-inch skillet is less than $20! There's really no need to spend more than that, the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet is perfect.
So, how does it help me eat healthier? The flavor and texture achieved in a cast iron skillet is incomparable. No other skillet or pan can accomplish what it can. For instance, the chicken I make for my weekday lunches is so incredibly satisfying and only requires four ingredients. I simply sprinkle a few chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper, and sometimes a poultry seasoning blend, then heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high skillet, sear on both sides for four minutes, and finish it in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. The end result is a tender chicken breast surrounded by a perfectly crisp crust. I add spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, and feta cheese to each container and pack them up in my favorite meal prep containers.
The options for dinner are endless—chicken, steak, salmon, and scallops are just a few of my favorite proteins cooked in a cast iron skillet. Throw some potatoes and green beans in there, and you’ve got a healthy dinner in less than 45 minutes. And, because the cast iron imparts its own flavor on dishes, you really don’t need to add anything beyond salt, pepper, and a little oil to your dishes, which makes them healthy and delicious. Did I mention that a cast iron skillet only gets better with time? They are built to last a lifetime and becomes more flavorful each time you cook with them. Ready to invest in your own? Just make sure you learn how to clean and season it properly first. You don't want to ruin it after one use.
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.