In this day and age, time is of the essence.
Kids are getting home from school later than usual. There is sports practice, and lots of homework. On top of their schedule, you may be working nights, long days, and feeling tired and overwhelmed from all that life brings.
Convenience stores and fast food restaurants are on every corner, with a wait time of less than 5 minutes. It’s tempting to give into the convenience. However, there is a bigger price to pay for convenience, and that is your health.
Most convenience foods are loaded with salt, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, and preservatives. These types of foods can lack nutrients, and eating them too often can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
If you find yourself crunched for time, try these tips to avoid relying on convenience foods.
- Make a menu for the week. Planning out your meals can save time and energy. Use the menu as your grocery shopping list. Organize foods in the refrigerator by recipe. This will save daily time, and reduce the stress of putting meals on the table last minute. It will also prevent impulse shopping, and can save you money during the week.
- Use a crockpot. There are many recipes for crockpot dinners that are easy and fast. You can prepare your crockpot the night before and turn on before you head out the door for the day. By the time you come home, dinner will be done, and your house will smell delicious! Another tip is to prepare your crockpot ingredients in advance and freeze them in gallon size freezer bags. Try these delicious ones out. Pull out the bag you want to cook a few days beforehand to allow the ingredients to thaw out.
- Pack your lunch. Preparing snacks and lunches in advance is becoming more and more popular, especially for health and budget-conscious eaters. Set aside a few hours one day a week to cook up lunch options for the week. Portion and separate lunches into daily grab-and-go containers. If you need some ideas, click here.
- Pack snacks. If you’re a snacker, never leave the house without snacks in hand! Keep healthy snacks at work, in your purse, or in a small cooler in your car. Try these healthy options to satisfy your snack attack: fruit and a handful of nuts, crackers and cheese, whole grain muffin, chips and salsa, small turkey or tuna sandwich, vegetable strips and hummus, and if you need something sweet—dark chocolate squares.
We hope these ideas give you healthy inspiration this month. If you need a little more, start reviewing labels of some of your favorite convenience foods. You may realize they provide little to no nutritional value. Swamp them out for a healthy habit this week!
Keiser University Dietetic Intern