Today, I have a special treat for you! My friend Gaye from Calm.Healthy.Sexy. is here to share some of her best tips for eating healthy when you have a busy schedule. This time of year it is so easy to simply give up and reach for fast and processed food. If you don’t watch out this can quickly become the norm. Really…….when is life not busy I ask? Gaye’s tips and tricks are extremely practical even with the busiest of schedules. Leave us a comment and let us know what tips really work for you.
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10 Healthy Eating Tips and Tricks for Busy Women
If you’ve been working on eating healthier this year, you know how frustrating that can be. When life gets crazy and your schedule goes crazy, you just want to ditch the grilled chicken breasts and fresh salads and run to the nearest drive-thru window! Believe me, I know the feeling!
When that happens, we don’t need any fancy ideas, just some practical tips for saving time and energy on prepping and cooking healthy meals and snacks. You know, the kind of tips that don’t take much time to implement, but save you hours every week – and help keep your healthy eating on track.
Whether you’ve been eating a healthy diet for a long time, or are just getting started, practical and time-saving tips give you a lot of return on your investment. These are things you can do on a weekend afternoon or evening, usually in an hour or less, that give you a head start on healthy eating for the following week. They’ll help you make a plan, get organized, and save time. If you’re looking for ways to maximize your time and energy (while avoiding processed and fast food!), give these tips a try this week:
10 Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Women
- Make a menu that fits your family’s schedule for the coming week. This task is key; – in fact, I’d go so far as to say that you won’t be able to cook and eat a healthy diet if you don’t have a menu and a plan. Your menu can literally “make or break” your family’s healthy eating for the week, so be sure to create one that actually works for you. Be sure to take into account work schedules, after-school activities and evening meetings, and plan accordingly.
- Clean out and organize your refrigerator, freezer and pantry/cupboards. This isn’t a deep clean, but rather a quick clean. You need to know what you have on hand and be able to find it easily. At least I do! It’s much easier for me to cook healthy food if I can see what’s in my refrigerator and pantry. When I can’t, it’s harder and more stressful to get a healthy meal on the table, or a healthy lunch packed, in a hurry. So do this every couple of weeks – when you do it regularly, it only takes 10-15 minutes each time.
- Make a master meal list. This idea comes from my friend Christina, author of this blog, and it’s a great one. Make a list of all of your “tried and true” recipes and refer to it when making your weekly menu, or when your meal plan falls apart and you have to come up with a new plan quickly. This can be a lifesaver! Check out Christina’s article on meal planning and the master meal list.
- Make a list of healthy food items you want to have on hand and start stocking up.A pantry stocked with whole grain pasta, brown rice, canned diced tomatoes, canned beans, natural peanut butter and other healthy staples can keep you out of the drive-thru line! Healthy staples provide lots of options for quick lunches and dinners when your day doesn’t go as planned. So make a master list and purchase a few items on the list each time you go to grocery shopping.
- Cook London broil in the Crock Pot to make shredded beef. I like to use London broil, because it’s tender and not very fatty, but you can use any roast that cooks well on long, low heat and shreds easily. Cook enough to serve your family at least two meals (and ideally more for lunches). Add some little water or beef broth, and maybe some salsa, and cook on low all day. Shred the beef and use it for tacos, sandwiches or shredded beef with rice. Freeze any extra for another meal.
- Wash, peel, and cut fruits and vegetables for the week. Doing this task on the weekend saves a tremendous amount of time on busy weeknights. You might skip making a salad at 6:00 on a Monday night if you have to wash and cut up vegetables, but if everything is cut and ready to go, it takes less than a minute to make a salad. The same is true with fruits that can be popped into lunchboxes on a busy morning or served as snacks on the way to soccer practice.
- Boil some eggs.Serve them as part of a quick breakfast, add them to salads, or use them to make egg salad. The Egg Safety Center (eggsafety.org) says that hard cooked eggs spoil faster than raw eggs, so keep them refrigerated and use them within a few days.
- Roast one or more whole chickens or a number of chicken breasts. Or cook them in your Crock Pot. Shred or chop the meat for tacos, chicken salad, Chef’s salad or Greek salad with chicken. It can also be used in a quick chicken and vegetable stir fry. Freeze extra meat for a super-busy day.
- Make a batch or double batch of granola. Granola makes a wonderful real food breakfast or snack. Store-bought granola can be high in fat and sugar, but when you make it yourself you control the ingredients. I usually make a double batch of my As-You-Like-It Granola because it requires almost no additional work. And my family eats it so quickly that a single batch is gone in a flash!
- Package snacks for the week so they’re ready to “grab and go.” Fill sandwich bags or small containers with popcorn, whole grain crackers, cheese, grapes, granola, healthy muffins and other items so that family members can grab them easily for lunches or quick snacks. Make up small containers of real yogurt and fruit (fresh or frozen), rather than relying on packaged fruit yogurt that contains a lot of sugar.
This weekend, I encourage you to give several of these tips a try. Set aside an hour or two and do as many of them as you can. I think you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to eat healthy next week.
If you’re looking for more healthy eating tips and hacks, plus quick no-recipe family meals, download Gaye’s free ebook, 24 Quick and Healthy Family Meals.