Next week, you have to rush the kids to and from soccer fields, baseball fields, parent teacher conferences, recitals, practices… and that gets you through Thursday. Busy schedules seem to stand in between your family and healthy eating. The busier your schedule, the more you gravitate towards convenience foods. You may find yourself rushing through a drive-thru between practices, picking up take out on your way home, or maybe you have a stockpile of frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets stacked up in your freezer.
Of course, the most convenient foods aren’t the healthiest foods. Eating healthy with a busy schedule isn’t impossible, however.
Here are a few tips to help keep your family eating healthy foods even when life is hectic.
Take a look at your calendar for the upcoming week. Identify when you will be home for meals and when you will be away from the house during meal times.
Plan your meals for the upcoming week taking into account how long each meal takes to prepare and cook. You don’t want to plan a veggie casserole that takes one hour and fifteen minutes to prepare and cook on a night that you come home at 7:00 p.m.
Consider slow cooker meals, or doing meal prep work for dishes the night or morning before, on nights when you get home at dinner time.
For late nights when you’re gone from the house during meal times, consider meal prepping and taking your dinner with you.
Meal prepping makes eating healthy with a busy schedule possible. It allows you to bring healthy foods with you instead of relying on fast food restaurants to feed your family. Meal prepping also saves time, saves money, and it can alleviate some stress.
There are plenty of complicated meal prepping systems, but you can get a lot of mileage from these simple life hacks:
- Put lean meats like chicken breasts or pork chops into a freezer bag with marinade or a favorite bottled sauce and toss them in the freezer. You can do several combinations of meat and sauce for a week, creating meal-size portions for your family. Pull them out in the morning, and you’ll be ready to put them in the oven or on the grill while you’re fixing the side dishes.
- When you’re doing your meal prep for the week, brown ground meat or grill chicken pieces. Cut up or break up these protein sources and freeze them in two cup portions in freezer bags. You’ll have a head start on dishes like tacos or spaghetti.
- When you cook chili, stew, or soups for your family, double the recipe and bag up the extra for your freezer. Put slightly cooled soups in freezer bags and lay them out on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once they’re solid, you can file them in a freezer container and put the cookie sheet back in the cupboard. You can put these into your slow cooker frozen when you leave for work and come home to a nice dinner.
- Prepare casseroles in big batches and divide them among freezer containers with lids before baking. Stack them in your freezer. Pull one out of the freezer when you fix breakfast. An hour before dinner, put the casserole into a 350 degree oven.
- Wash and cut up vegetables on Sunday night and store them in the fridge. Use them in salads and stir-fry dishes all week. Be sure to use delicate veggies like lettuce before long-lasting varieties like carrots.
Set aside an hour or two at the end of the week to do these simple steps and you’ll be able to put meals together in less time than you’d spend in the drive through line. Get together with a friend and the time will fly by — plus, you can trade meals for more variety.
Healthy foods on the go
Lunch and dinner are important, but don’t forget to pack healthy snacks, too. Here are a few nutritious foods that you can take with you on the go.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Dried fruit such as raisins
Cutting fruits and vegetables and storing them in portable containers makes them easier and more convenient to eat while you’re on the go.
Peanuts, almonds, and cashews
Low fat cheese and whole grain crackers
Whole wheat tortillas and peanut butter or almond butter
Whole grain pitas and hummus or baba ghanoush
Pack a spoon and you can eat couscous, quinoa, or brown rice with your favorite vegetables and choice of lean protein.
Wraps and sandwiches are easy to carry, easy to eat on the go, and require little to no clean up. Stuff them full of healthy ingredients!
Eating healthy with a busy schedule can be a challenge, but it’s possible with a little planning and preparation! A healthy diet is necessary for good health. Make sure you’re on track for wellness. Schedule your wellness exam today!