Most of us have been there before – after coming home from a full day of dealing with rush hour traffic, people problems, and office politics, we wonder “What’s for dinner?” With hardly anything in the kitchen, we settle for ordering pizza (again) or decide to fill up on pantry snacks. Our busy lives often prevent us from reaching our nutritional, health, and fitness goals. As a result, we end up packing on unwanted pounds and eating convenient, not-so-nutritious foods instead of the necessary, wholesome foods that our bodies crave.
It may be difficult to maintain healthy eating habits while leading a busy life, but it is not impossible. The five simple tips below will ensure you have a healthy eating plan to fit into your hectic schedule.
1. Plan your meals out
You don’t have to go into a lot of detail. Just grab a sheet of paper and outline the meals you will have Monday – Sunday. This makes food shopping and preparation so much easier. Placing Post-it notes on your refrigerator where you will see the plan every day works just as well. If you plan to have spaghetti on Wednesday, for example, you will remember to buy pasta sauce or perhaps have time to make your own on Tuesday night. Planning your meals out for the week instantly makes your shopping easier. Instead of mentally throwing a list together while you rush into the store, you already know what it is you need to get, and you can shop for the entire week at one time.
2. Cook once; eat it twice (or thrice!)
You can cook one main ingredient recipe on Monday, and then use that same recipe for different meals throughout the week. Chicken, for example, can be eaten for dinner one night. What’s left over can be diced and used to make an easy Chicken Salad Sandwich for lunch the next day. Cooking one time for multiple meals ensures that you will never not have something ready to eat and also cuts down on kitchen cleaning time.
3. Keep calm and freeze on
If you think your freezer is just for storing half eaten cartons of ice cream, you should think again. You can prep a bunch of one-dish meals like casseroles, chilis, and stews, and then freeze them without even having to cook them ahead of time. When you’re ready to eat, just pop your meal into the oven or place it on the stove and you have a hot, fresh, home-cooked meal in no time. For the morning, try these Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches. For lunch, try these Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas. For dinner, the possibilities are almost endless.
4. Shake it up in the mornings
No, I’m not talking about those ready made drinks that come in chocolate or vanilla or strawberry flavors. Healthy breakfast shakes and smoothies are a snap to make before you have to rush out the door in the morning. They will leave you feeling energized and full for a few good hours. There are so many delicious ways to mix up your shakes and smoothies that you’ll never get bored. You can use protein powder, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, and even Greek yogurt. Try this Coffee Java Protein Shake, this Avocado-Banana Smoothie, or this Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie.
5. Pack your lunch the night before.
No need to have a co-worker pick up McDonald’s for you anymore. If you eat lunch at your work place, pack your meal for the next day. You can also pack your own healthy snacks, such as trail mix, nuts, dried fruits, etc., and take it with you in an insulated bag. Check out this list of 23 Make-Ahead Lunches to Get You Through the Work Week.
Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com