Get Cooking! Challenge

March's Goal: Prepare 3 more meals per week.

Welcome to the third month of our 12 Healthy Habits program. Don’t worry if you’re new to 12HH —you can join at any time (find the other Habits here). This month, and in every magazine issue in 2011, we’re focusing on healthy practices that you’re probably already familiar with but want to benefit from more. The approach is personal: We profile people whose stories reveal specific, lifestyle-based challenges and solutions, putting general health advice into real-life context. Find support and information by signing up for our 12 Healthy Habits newsletter and download a “habit tracker,” which provides more tips. You can also be part of the conversation, online and in the magazine. Write to us at 12HealthyHabits@timeinc.com, and we might profile you, too!

You have 21 chances to cook this week, breakfasts and lunches included. Cooking is probably already your passion, as it is ours. But the great American time squeeze conspires to separate us from the things we love. Restaurants and fast-food outlets rush in to serve up food that is usually far from light: One fast-food meal can contain a day’s worth of saturated fat, and Americans eat far more salt than recommended, most coming from restaurant and processed foods. Only when we cook do we really control what we eat.

Easy for you to say, you say. The time squeeze is real! True, and that’s why we focus on strategies and tips for make-ahead and quick meals. But we also aim to expand your cooking repertoire for fun and variety, so you’ll be more likely to want to cook. Mindful cooking—thinking about health as well as taste, variety, even cost—puts you in touch with ingredients, flavors, nutrition, and trends.