Tips for Continued Healthy Eating
Life is fast-paced and preparing healthy meals can take organization and time. Below are some ‘tips and tricks’ that can help you prepare for a furry of fast paced meal preparation when time is of the essence.
Find a day of the week where you can plan out your week’s menu – when you make your menu, try to be creative in that what you cook one day can be used for a meal the next. Now, if you’re sitting there thinking, “yeah right, plan out a week’s worth of meals?” well, at least try to think of how a main course or side dish can be used the next day in your breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.
Example, if you decide that you want grilled chicken or steak one night, cook enough so that you can use it to top a salad for lunch or dinner the next day. You can also use it in a stir-fry or top it with an egg for breakfast – talk about a high-protein breakfast! Sometimes, if I’m in a hurry in the morning or ill prepared for that day’s snacks I’ll grab some of last night’s protein and throw it in a Tupperware container as part of my mid-morning or afternoon snack.
If you like salads but don’t like the hassle of cleaning lettuce, invest in a salad spinner. We LOVE this thing and it gets used almost daily! At our house we buy a bunch of different lettuces, chop ‘em up, wash and spin it dry. If you are lucky this might last you a couple of meals. If you don’t want the hassle of washing and cleaning your lettuce, there are plenty of pre-washed and pre-packaged lettuces in the grocery store. Here’s another option too -- if you want to make your fresh cleaned butter leaf, romaine, etc. ‘go further,’ mix it with some prepackaged spring mix lettuce, spinach or kale! You will definitely get some variety in your salad leaves.
We love seeds – pepitas, sunflower, hemp, you name it – we can get in a debate as to whether eating them toasted is good for you or not, but we will save that for another time. Seeds are very versatile! And they are a great source of fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. You can use them as a topping for salads, roasted/grilled veggies, soups or as a snack by themselves or with nuts and dried fruits. Whether you like them toasted or raw make enough and keep them accessible to use over the course of the next couple of days.
When you cook some vegetables, COOK-SOME-VEGETABLES! Make a huge vegetable platter – cook your vegetables on the grill or roast them in the oven – experiment with some basic seasonings and herbs like garlic powder, chili powder, paprika or smoked paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, cilantro, etc. Whatever you don’t use one night you can quickly throw them together to re-heat when making a stir-fry, fajitas, “Italian surprise” (that’s our version of veggies, ragu and meat baked through until it is warm). Veggies are also great for breakfast too – heat ‘em up, throw and egg on top and voila! (And, yes, didn’t you know that you can throw an egg on anything these days and it’s considered either breakfast or gourmet?!)
Back to your vegetables. When you get your vegetables home, clean and put them away so they are ready for use – or if you don’t want to take the time to clean them right away, clean a few extra of whatever you are using so that they are ready for use at a later time.
Find a quick and easy “staple meal” that your family loves and wouldn’t object to eating once a week or once every one and a half weeks – our staple meal is taco salad. I’ll be honest, while I talk about pre-planning there are meals that don’t get thought about until I walk in the door from a long day at work – yes, Ican be just like you! We have used everything from unfrozen to frozen ground meats and chicken. Just because it is frozen doesn’t mean that it will take forever for it to thaw – I typically throw our frozen meat in the microwave on defrost (if I have 10-15 mins) or cook (if I want to have it in the skillet within 5 mins).
Another option is to put the frozen meat in a skillet with a little bit of water and place a lid on top. The steam will help to quickly thaw the meat and it will evaporate once I begin the cooking process. While the meat is thawing I get the meat seasonings and salad items prepped; this is a meal that saves my day and our waistlines! Plus the left over ground meat is great in an omelet the next morning or warm with a fried egg on top!
Soup is on! When you make soup, make enough for some left-overs. It can be debated, but personally, I think soups taste better the next day as it allows the flavors to ‘meld’ together. What you don’t use one night can become a side dish for another, lunch, or dare I say breakfast with an egg on top?! But in all seriousness, you can also freeze your left-overs in small containers and take it to work or consume at another time.
Would you or a family member like to have homemade pancakes or waffles during the week? Well you can! Just take a few extra minutes when preparing your family’s next meal of pancakes or waffles and make a few more – allow them to cool and then place them in the freezer. And, yes, this can be done with your gluten free flour, almond meal flour and dairy-free pancake and waffle recipes.
While the list of tips and suggestions could go on-and-on, we don’t want to completely bore you – we hope you will find some useful ideas to integrate in to your fast-pace life so that you can continue to eat healthy.