4 Healthy Food Hacks For Busy Lives
While your calendar is filling up quickly and your to-do list seems never-ending, making sure the whole family is eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need is still possible.
Here are healthy food hacks to save time in the kitchen and increase time with your family.
1. BE TIME-EFFICIENT, DO FOOD PREP
You might have heard people singing the praise of food-prep before, but what does that even mean and how can it save you time?
When we think of food-prep, we think of planning out most of the meals for the week and cooking large batches of food once or twice a week.
Planning out the majority of your meals can help you make better choices (rather than deciding on dinner while hungry and exhausted after work), save some money by buying in bulk, and save you time since you won’t have to cook every day. Try to plan out three to four meals and snacks and rotate them throughout the week. For example: One meal could be chicken, rice and veggies for dinner. Then chicken and veggies sandwich for lunch the day after. Instead of having to cook chicken every day, cook a large batch and store it in the fridge to pull from for different meals. Another meal might be meatballs, pasta, and salad, with the following day’s lunch being a meatball salad.
Get the idea?
To make sure that the food stays fresh in the fridge we recommend only prepping foods that are suitable for storing. For example, don’t chop salad for the whole week, but instead portion out fruits and veggies that don’t need cutting like cherry tomatoes.
We also recommend choosing snacks that require as little prep-time as possible such as edamame, nuts (a serving of almonds is ¼ cup or about 23 almonds), string cheese, Greek yogurt, boiled eggs, and fruit.
The only downside to this strategy is that you will always have a fully stocked fridge
2. USE SHORT-CUTS WHERE YOU CAN
Chopping up fresh produce and preparing protein can be time-consuming, and the good news is that you can cheat your way to a fully stocked, healthy meal-prepped fridge. There is nothing wrong with buying frozen, pre-cut, pre-made, pre-cooked food, or canned food.
If buying pre-cut or frozen veggies will save you time and ensure that you are actually eating your veggies, then go for it. Many supermarkets also sell pre-cooked whole chickens, while other markets will offer to cook one for you if you call ahead.
The only thing to be mindful of is how the food is prepared. Simply ask at your market and give instructions as to how you would like it cooked. Same goes for canned food, look at the nutrition label and make sure you understand what is actually in the can.
When looking at the nutrition label, make sure that the first or second ingredient is what you’d expect to be in the can. For example, a can of tuna should have tuna listed as the first ingredient and yogurt should have dairy not fruit or sugar listed first. Another thing to look for is added sodium and sugar. If you’re watching your sodium intake, don’t choose a can that covers more than 50-100% of your daily sodium intake.
3. PLAN AHEAD
Like the Scouts, always be prepared. Some days might simply be too chaotic to even squeeze in a meal with ready-to-go ingredients from the fridge.
Having a backup plan for days like that by knowing where you can pick-up healthy take-out meals is important.
Do your research. You are bound to make healthier food choices if you already know where the healthiest options are -- and eating food from a restaurant does not need to be an excuse to eat junk.
If you do have the time and energy to cook, keep a few recipes lined-up that are healthy and easy. Maybe even make a few of them to stash in the freezer that you could set out to thaw during the workday so it’s ready to warm up when you get home. Even if the recipe calls for mixing canned tuna, tomato, broccoli and spices and pour over pasta.
4. DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Make sure that most of the meals you eat and prepare for your family are nutritionally well-structured and know there will be days when they aren’t.