By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
We’ve all been there. The morning rush to get everyone out the door on time, lunch on the fly between important work meetings and projects, then the mad dash at the end of a busy day, rushing from work to carpool then home for homework and getting ready for work the next day. Who has time to eat healthfully when life is so crazy busy? You do! We all do! But it takes some thoughtfulness and strategy.
With a busy career, two kids, a husband, and pets to care for all on a budget, I experience this challenge on a daily basis. In fact, right now, I’ve got some beans soaking for a soup I’ll be tossing in the crock pot early tomorrow morning before catching the 7 am train to the hospital. Don’t get me wrong; we do stop for a quick bite or take out once or twice a week. Although most are healthy choices, after all, even nutrition experts are humans! But all in all I find that my family feels better and we save serious money by following these top 5 tips for finding time to eat healthy:
1.) Planning: This is by far the most important principle for making time to eat in a way that supports how you want to live. Planning begins beforehand, meaning you want to “get ahead” of your meals. If you sit down over the weekend and map out your week, you can gather recipes, shop for ingredients and kick off the week well prepared for healthy eating on the go.
2.) Preparation: Stocking your kitchen with essentials can go a long way when time is of the essence. Check out these 10 Foods You Need In Your Kitchen to Stay Healthy All Year. You can create many fast but healthy meals from these simple staples.
3.) Prioritize: Making healthy eating non-negotiable is an important way to stick with your goals. This means making time for food preparation, researching restaurant meal choices online before going and carving out time to stop and eat snacks or meals throughout your busy day. When you’re well nourished, your resilience to make healthy choices when faced with a sea of processed, high fat, high salt foods will be much stronger. Kind of like not going to the grocery store hungry!
4.) Patience: It takes time to build in a healthy eating routine. Don’t get frustrated when this doesn’t happen perfectly overnight. Start with one meal at a time. Take breakfast. Maybe this means prepping your smoothie the night before, placing ingredients right into your blender’s pitcher and storing in the fridge, making your juice the night before or early morning, double batching oatmeal so you have today’s and tomorrow’s ready to grab and go.
5.) Plenty of Portions – Batch Cook: Making a big pot of chili, comforting soup, or healthy roasted veggies or pasta meals when you have time can carry you through half of the week and beyond. Freezing leftovers in meal sized portions is a great way to save money, time and ensure you’re eating nourishing foods that support your wellness goals. I like to pull leftover meals from the freezer the night, refrigerate then the following day when I get home, pop them out of their glass container and into a baking dish, and reheat for about 20-30 minutes. While reheating, I make a fresh salad to accompany our main course.
In time, you can erase most of the time-related barriers keeping you from achieving your health and wellness goals. What are your favorite ways to make time to eat healthfully?