An hour in the supermarket once a week, and half an hour every night to cook is somehow "incredibly difficult and time consuming"?
You must not be eating healthy. And, like most people, you're forgetting to add the prep and cleaning time. Lets try this again, shall we?
- Fresh meats and veggies have short shelf lives, even when stored in the fridge, as there isn't much in the way of preservatives since you're eating fresh. Because you're going fresh you can only keep a few days stored at a time. You're going to spend about an hour, every other day, walking around the grocery store and waiting in the damn checkout lines to buy what you need for dinner.
- When you get home you're going to spend about 30 minutes, minimum, to prep all that stuff - those books, magazines, and TV shows which tell you that you can do a full meal in 30 minutes are lying, that's often the cooking time after you've spent at least 40 minutes prepping; its not a coincidence that most TV cooking shows have the ingredients prepared in those nice little glass bowls, or the food often cooked in advance - you'd spend most of the hour long show watching the chef cutting and prepping before any of the actual cooking took place.
- After prepping, depending on the meal being cooked, you're looking at another minimum of 30 minutes to cook it all.
- After cooking, unless you're a pig, it'll probably take you at least 15-30 minutes to eat it.
- After eating you've now got a 30-60 minute adventure in the kitchen cleaning up the mess you just made.
- If you like variety in any way shape or form you're likely going to want to eat something different for lunch than yesterday's leftovers - double all the time above if you're also making lunch.
- Did I mention how expensive it is to eat healthy? It wasn't at all uncommon to spend upward of ten to fifteen bucks a meal!
When you add it all up, cooking fresh takes a minimum of 2 hours, every day, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after yourself. 4 hours if you decide to make a lunch that isn't yesterday's leftovers. Throw an extra hour in for grocery shopping every other day and you're up to three to five hours, daily. And before you go all "bullshit" on me, or try to insinuate that I'm making this up, I USED TO DO THIS! I've wasted hours of my life cooking, prepping, cleaning.
We only get 24 hours in a day. I sleep for 8 of them, work for 8 of them, spend two of them travelling back and forth work, and I used to spend 4 hours - EVERY DAY - eating, cooking, cleaning, prepping, going grocery shopping. I used to have a grand total of 2 whole hours of free time, every day. It was stupid, and a complete waste of my time. I sat down one day and figured it out and by increasing my food budget by about 20% - 30%, I could go out to eat for both lunch and dinner every day for about 30 to 40 minutes each and it wasn't all that hard finding healthy choices either. Now I pay the restaurant / cafeteria at work to cook, prep, and clean and I get back that 4 hours - I'd call that a fair trade.