One of the keys to healthier eating is to avoid heavily processed foods and instead prepare your meals from scratch. Of course, this can be a challenge any time of year. But during the hectic holidays, it can be doubly daunting. After all, with December racing by, it can be tempting to throw out a healthy diet in lieu of just eating something because it’s all you have time to think about.
Fortunately, with a little preparation, you can eat better without adding to the stress of the season. Here are 12 simple strategies to keep you well nourished and energized now and in the new year ahead…
Start With Simple & Nourishing
Start your day off right with a breakfast that is high in both protein and fiber. Stay away from sugary cereals and breakfast bars. And most definitely ditch the doughnuts, toaster pastries, and fast-food carb bombs. Instead, opt for oats, nuts, fruits, or yogurt. Try a variation of rice and beans. These foods will release their energy slowly, so you’ll feel satiated (and energized) longer.
Buy Pre-Cut Vegetables
When you’re committed to cooking with fresh produce, consider saving yourself time by buying it pre-cut or pre-packaged. While the convenience will cost a little extra on your grocery bill, it’s still more cost effective than eating out, and it’s a much better deal than depriving yourself of vital nutrition.
Stock Up on Frozen & Canned Fruits & Vegetables
In addition to saving time, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are much easier to keep on hand than their fresh counterparts. And that makes them easier to incorporate into any meal, either as a side or as a supplemental ingredient to the main dish.
Prepare & Freeze Meals in Advance
You can save yourself a ton of time by doing your meal preparation for the week at one time. Not only does it make more efficient use of your time, but it also means you won’t have much prepping to do on your busiest days. Just heat and eat!
Prep Ingredients in Advance
Getting all your ingredients gathered and prepared for a meal is usually the most time-consuming part of making it. And let’s admit it, some meals just aren’t that great when they’re frozen and reheated anyway. In these situations, prep up-front so when you’re ready to make the meal on a busy evening, everything is ready to go. You’ll have a fresh meal and a little extra time to enjoy it.
Enjoy Slow-Cooker Meals
It’s hard to beat a good slow-cooker meal. They’re delicious, they’re super convenient, and the aroma welcomes you home. Prep your ingredients the night before, throw them in the crockpot before you leave for work, and by the time you return, you’ve got an easy plate to yum!
Make One-Pot Dinners
With a handful of ingredients and even fewer dishes to clean up afterward, one-pot dinners are an excellent addition to your weekly meal repertoire. Just search “healthy one pot dinners” for lots of quick and delicious recipes.
When you’re on the run, it can be tempting to keep hunger at bay by scarfing down a candy bar or a bag of chips. But these are empty calories that won’t keep you satisfied (or energized) for very long. Keep healthier alternatives on hand like trail mix, homemade granola bars, or hardboiled eggs (refrigerated, not on your person, of course).
Make a Recipe Book
Where a lot of people get hung up is in planning their meals. Figuring out what you want to eat for the next week can be challenging. And even more so if you’re planning for others as well. So start making it easier for yourself by maintaining your own recipe book. As it fills up, choosing meals for the week ahead will become quicker and easier. Plus, you’ll have your grocery list put together in no time!
Stock Up on Healthy Staples
Keep your pantry well stocked with the right essentials, and you’ll have what you need to whip up a healthy meal or snack in no time. Items to have on hand include oats, brown rice, dried and/or canned beans, whole grain pastas, crushed and diced tomatoes, canned tuna, nuts, dried fruits, potatoes, onions, and fresh garlic. And of course, keep your refrigerator stocked too, with eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, hummus, and other fresh and healthy ingredients.
Make Healthier Choices When You’re Dining Out
From time to time, either out of choice or convenience, even the best prepped among us will find herself/himself at a restaurant. Enjoy! And keep your healthy eating on track by opting for plant-based options (the fresher the better), and by avoiding fried foods and sugary drinks.
Take Advantage of Grocery Pick-Up and/or Delivery
So, you managed to plan your meals and put your grocery list together, but now you’re faced with a trip to the grocery store where you’ll roam the isles endlessly looking for that item that should have been over there somewhere. Oh, how very 2000’s. These days, you can let the store do the work. Why not have your entire week of groceries delivered to your car or home? You have enough to do!